Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life. Poodle, asleep on the stoop, suddenly erupts into hysterical barking and begs to be let into the house. Assuming that she's once again detected an invasion of invisible evil spirits, I glance outside and see a yearling moose standing in the verge of the forest. Though she is only a hundred feet away from me and framed in bright green shrubbery, she remains shadowy and mysterious, a sort of shimmering, fading Rorschach blotch. In the house, the poodle barks and barks. I linger on the stoop, and the moose watches me, with mild interest. Eventually she turns and steps away. I hear a crackle of hoof steps. Then she vanishes.

Death. Last week, around ten or eleven at night, I lay in bed reading. Through the open window I heard a crack and a pop. I assumed that someone somewhere had shot off a firecracker, but my older son, whose bedroom window faces the road, thought otherwise. He barreled out of his room shouting, "Car accident!" and then he and Tom took off down the driveway into the darkness. The night fell back into silence. I got out of bed and came downstairs, and my younger son came out of his room. We looked at each other apprehensively.

Time passed. Finally the responders returned and told us what had happened. A young man had been driving toward town when a doe had leaped out of our woods into his car. His only damage was a broken headlight, but the doe had been killed. "And," said my son reluctantly, "she was pregnant with twins. Who weren't dead."

My husband broke in. "They are now." There was a pause.

My son said, "I don't think you want to hear the details."

"Maybe not," I said.

There was a pause.

My son said, "If the driver hadn't taken care of them, I would have. I don't know how. But I would have. Somebody had to.

He and my husband looked at each other and then looked away. My younger son and I looked at each other and then looked away.

In the morning, there was no trace of death on the road.

1 comment:

Dawn Potter said...

An email comment from my friend David:

We use words like “devastating” and “heartbreaking” and “awful” and “horrible” etc. and they don’t touch your story of the doe. It is something entirely else, a confrontation with a stark and cruel truth past the profound. A kind of terrible awe.

“One man looks at a dying bird and thinks there’s nothing but unanswered pain—that death’s got the final word. It’s laughin’ at them. Another man sees that same bird—and feels the glory—feels something smiling through.”
- Private Witt, in The Thin Red Line (dir. Terrence Malick)

I do not know about the “feels the glory”. I think I can vaguely understand what he is getting at, but only intellectually; I don’t feel it and don’t even know that I want to, or should.