I live in an area that has a huge deer population. They are beautiful, graceful and very dangerous. I've had many close calls with deer jumping out in front of my car. Somehow I managed to avoid hitting them. That changed last fall when I was riding in a car that struck a deer. A doe suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The driver swerved. It was too late. The deer rolled over the hood of the car and was thrown to the opposite side of the road.
While the driver got out to gather broken pieces of bumper, grill, and headlights, I stayed in the car and watched the doe, still alive, still moving. She slowly raised her head and tried to stand, but she was too weak. I knew there was nothing I could do except pray that death would happen quickly and end her pain. I didn't want her to die alone so we sat silently in the car and waited until she was gone. It broke my heart to watch her eyes close and her head drift down onto the cold asphalt .
Yesterday, I came across "Traveling Through the Dark" by William Stafford. It brought back the sadness I felt that last fall. I love the way William Stafford can tell such a powerful story in just a few short lines of poetry.
Traveling Through The Dark
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
You can read the rest of the poem here.