Poetry 124: Driving through the Animal by Enid Shomer


Through my window, the buzz of a distant combine
cutting a swath through the far pasture of rye,
small animals caught in its wheeling blades–
rabbits shived to wet ribbons, field mice
reduced to minims of bloody fur as the field
flattens into the lush avenues of our hungers.

At drivers’ school last Fall I learned it’s a fatal
mistake to spare the deer, possum or pet
in the road. Drive through the animal, the officer
said. Since flesh gives, collision–even
with a steer–is safer than a wild swerve
into oncoming traffic, culvert, or tree.

I know how it happens: past midnight near Cedar Key,
the road cinching up on its yellow thread.
Star-bright eyes cluster like low constellations.
I drive through the herd, the car my armor,
telling myself they’re only a thicket of bone
and blood. Like faint quarter moons, hooves rise

in my headlights, a body slams–brief trophy–
on the grille. Deer often die of fright
before they die of their wounds. But mine casts
in the road for hours, its tongue spilled, flies
working the open spots, vultures sifting
down from trees. The truth is I’d never drive

straight through. Whatever it is that leaps
in my chest would become what leapt in the road,
and I’d turn away. Try as I might that night in school
to steer my dummy wheel into films of deer
and dogs dashing headlong or popping up
as placards, I couldn’t let their blood
become my wine.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

About Barry Daniel

I live in the Lake District in the UK where I run a guesthouse with my partner Kate and my cat Manuel. I enjoy painting, hillwalking, reading, visiting and entertaining friends, T’ai Chi and playing the guitar. I’m engaged to a certain degree in the local community, as a volunteer with Samaritans and I’m a fairly active member of the local Green party. I’ve had a relatively intuitive sense of the Middle Way most of my adult life but it found a greater articulation and a practical direction through joining the society. It’s also been interesting and great fun engaging with other people with a similar outlook. My main contribution to the society is conducting the podcast interviews, something that gives me a lot of satisfaction and that I’ve learnt a lot from.

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