By the Overpass by Terence McCaffrey

By the Overpass

We stared politely at the dead doe
lying in a bed of Aster
by the blackened overpass,

at its glassy, ebony eye, searching;
its splayed, pink tongue, offering
beneath the nuisance of a garish

August sun. Chicken skin,
I might have said of the tongue,
just as distant cattails

began to bow mournfully
in a separate breeze, signaling
the first nadir of a boy’s life:

the thickening thought
of the unnatural order of things,
closed in a hairless breast.

You ventured to recite
over the dissonant sound
of passing traffic a prayer

about giving back to the Earth,
blistering forward in life, caring enough…
Despite our growing doubts

that we could ever move past such
tragedy as metal meeting muscle,
one ceasing another’s soft breath.

by Terence McCaffrey

Editor’s Note: It’s difficult to read a poem about a dead deer without thinking about Traveling through the Dark by William Stafford, but this poem meets that poem’s imagery in the center, and adds its own twist at the end.


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