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.
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.
I, too, love William Stafford. I have even given Stafford readings here in the Sacramento, California area. I came to read Stafford a bit late, I had begun reading Robert Bly, and became aware of their friendship, and saw a video documentary on the two of them, and so began reading Stafford. (I can't recall the title of the video, but a do a search on Bly, Stafford, Video - you'll find it.) This is a poem with everything: life, death, hope, reason, maturity, image, it works on the page and sounds beautiful out loud... just everything. Add it to one of your own readings sometime, and the audience is yours.