for Vaughn Montgomery
The dead doe on the Pacific Coast Highway
was lying on her left side. She was almost
the same color as the dirt around her.
Whenever a car passed—it was Sunday
and people were driving the coast—
the fur on her neck would rise in the wind.
Her eyes were dry and cracked; they looked
like the skin of baked apples. They did not shine.
Her left hind leg was so broken it looked absurd.
A car must’ve hit. The doe defecated.
Windblown pebbles stuck to the shit.
The hooves were dusty and large. They did not seem
like the hooves of something dead.
When I reached down and picked up a front leg
I could feel the clarity of her old running.
She made me nervous. I was afraid she would stand up
and come alive. How many cars will pass tonight,
I wondered, and make the fur on her neck rise?
It saddened me no one would be there
to document every time this happened,
that no one would say, There, look.
The fur on her neck, it’s rising in the wind.
—from Rattle #28, Winter 2007
Teddy Macker: “Two phrases come to mind when I think of this poem: ‘reverence for life’ and ‘big clarity.’ Lately I’ve been trying to write poetry that possesses both.”