Wednesday, June 2, 2010


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.


  1. Have always loved this poem. Sorry you had that moment; it was lovely of you to wait, in respect for the doe.

  2. Thanks, Joyce. I love deer so it was a very sad day.

  3. I love when I see a deer peeking behind a tree when I take a walk in the neighborhood, or in the woods behind me.
    It saddens me to see dead deer on the side of the road, sad for the deer and the people who hit them.
    I've hit a deer two different times and it's scary. The deer dashes in front of cars so quickly and many times both the car and damaged are severely damaged.
    Thanks for sharing the poem!

  4. sad. Thank you, Linda, for sharing your moving story, and the poem. And for sitting with the doe, so she wouldn't die alone.

  5. This is such a beautiful poem. I can see why you feel a deep connection with it.

  6. Linda, I'm a William Stafford fan. I love his Writing the Australian Crawl.

    Laura Evans

  7. Kelly, I agree it's hard to see a deer on the side of the road. We have a herd of them living in the woods behind my house, and I feel very connected to them.

    Toby and Laura, I love many of William Stafford's poems. This one and "Fifteen" are two of my favorites.

    Laura, I have a copy of Writing the Australian Crawl, but I haven't read it for years. Thanks for reminding me to take it off the shelf and read it again.

  8. I have had Stafford's The Way It Is on my Amazon Wish List for some time now. I'm going to have to order it soon--I keep across beautiful examples of his powerful poems.

    This one kind of broke my heart. I hate seeing dead deer and other animals at the side of the road, and I felt I was really there in that moment with him.

    Thanks for sharing, Linda--and hugs...