Traveling Through the Dark
by William Stafford
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason--
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.
I thought hard for us all--my only swerving--,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.
With all that's part of our national consciousness today, a poem about choices, dilemmas, existential moments. We deserve to agonize. We need to agonize. Our humanity resides in our agonizing over moments. All the consequences and implications, all the 'on the other hand's demand our reflection. Stafford's narrator *has* to push her over the edge but, just as sure, *has* to think of the fawn.