It was indeed “deer in the headlights”
last night as I drove home from Campton,
but this doe bolted right back
into wooded darkness where cars don’t go.
In Campton as I said goodbye, we noticed
a chipmunk flattened to two
dimensions on the road by poor judgment.
Before dawn, I watched twin stars
match a deer’s wide eyes in my headlights,
escaping to reflect real starlight
rather than two brilliant suns that come
out of nowhere with a rush, then nothing.
I thought of literal sunsets—
how night is meant for concealment, sleep
for songbirds, shadow for furtive creatures
fur-bearing and clairvoyant.
Our own nocturnes cross no line. We dim
high beams lest we blind each other.
They scrubbed my neck,
knotted a tie around it, sat me on a bench,
a book without pictures in my hands,
and were pleased with the saving of my soul.
But the Spirit called to me through a crack
in the stained-glass: “Oak leaves
are colorful on each hillside, as their trees
dress for tomorrow. They sing
of ancestors while waiting for your return.”
Now in a white room, fingers find
a vein for the needle. Tall machines pump,
display numbers. I hear voices out
in the hallway say they think this is the best
place for me. A window shows
the building opposite. I do not look at it.
No herds of buffalo here for me to hunt.
© Russell Rowland
Russell Rowland writes from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, where he has judged high-school Poetry Out Loud competitions. His work appears in Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall (Encircle Publications), and “Covid Spring, Vol. 2” (Hobblebush Books). His latest poetry book, Wooden Nutmegs, is available from Encircle Publications.