William E. Stafford calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: Traveling through the dark I found a deer

COUNSELOR: Do you need to contact Animal Control?

CALLER: dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.

COUNSELOR: I’m sorry to hear that. How are you handling that?

CALLER: It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:

COUNSELOR: Why is that?

CALLER: that road is narrow;


CALLER: to swerve might make more dead.

COUNSELOR: Wait, you are parked, right?

CALLER: By glow of the tail-light

COUNSELOR: Good to know.

CALLER: I stumbled back of the car

COUNSELOR: You are sober, right?

CALLER: and stood by the heap,

COUNSELOR: The deer?

CALLER: a doe,

COUNSELOR: A female deer?

CALLER: a re-

COUNSELOR: A drop of golden sun?

CALLER: cent killing;


CALLER: she had stiffened already, almost cold.

COUNSELOR: I’m sorry.

CALLER: I dragged her


CALLER: off;

COUNSELOR: A long, long way?

CALLER: she was large


CALLER: in the belly.

COUNSELOR: Where is this thread going, exactly?

CALLER: My fingers

COUNSELOR: Not that I’m trying to needle you.

CALLER: touching her side brought me the reason—

COUNSELOR: You mean why she was so la–

CALLER: her side was warm;

COUNSELOR: Like tea?

CALLER: her fawn lay there waiting,

COUNSELOR: That could really jam your breath.

CALLER: alive, still, never to be born.

COUNSELOR: I know–that follows. So–

CALLER: Beside that mountain road

COUNSELOR: And that would bring us back to the doe.

CALLER: I hesitated.

COUNSELOR: Oh, dear.



Suggested by Eric Hammerstron. If you want have a favorite poem or poet you’d like to see at the Poetry Crisis Line, please leave a suggestion in the comments.

read the original here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42775/traveling-through-the-dark

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