POEM LIX: “DEER IN HEADLIGHTS”

Where there’s one,
there’s a dozen:
my mother taught me that.

She said, it’s frequently not the deer
you just dodged that gets you;
it’s the one you don’t see, following behind,
who slams into the darkened side of your car,
shattering your window
and traumatizing your toddler in the backseat.

To a deer, a car is not one object;
it’s a series of lights, with dark emptiness and safety between,
and when they run full speed into the side of your car,
they are trying to beat the second, red set of lights.

Which doesn’t help when you have a bleeding, thrashing deer halfway out of your Jetta
and a screaming toddler
and the knowledge that now, you have an entirely new ordeal with an insurance agency to deal with.
But which may, later—much later—breed a sort of understanding between you and the deer.

The next time you are playing Frogger,
guiding tiny Frogger through his maze of blinking lights,
you’ll remember it,
and smile.

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