Michael Munas (michaelboy) wrote,
Michael Munas
michaelboy

Courage, Weakness and Swerving in the Dark

Sometimes with patients, it's difficult for me when I know their pending outcome will not be good. Not difficult in that I don't know what to say or don't want to visit with them, but rather knowing inside myself that they face terrible things for which I have no ability or capacity to change.

When a deer or other animal is hit by a car and stumbles to the side of the road to die, I feel this same sort of helplessness.

I was probably about ten and was spending the night at my grandmother's (Mama's) house along Marietta Street. It was mid-evening when the doorbell rang. Two female college students from Wheeling had hit a rabbit with their car and asked if we had an axe or something to finish off this bunny. The entire backside of the hide was pulled from its body and it was shrieking loudly in pain. I remember it sounded quite like the bleating of a lamb as I lightly struck it.

I just couldn't find the strength or maybe the courage to do it, so I simply ran inside.


* * *

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.

William Stafford
1960
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