I wrote this poem in 2015 and shared it on Facebook. Every year around this time it pops up in my “Memories,” and this year I decided to share it here. The meter (and some of the phrasing) is based on The Night Before Christmas, and is about a deer that got hit by a car outside our house. Once in a while a poem just comes to me, and such was the case with this. It’s not a perfect poem– a little stilted in places– but overall I’m pleased with it. I avoid any temptation to rewrite the piece, as I want to preserve its nostalgia.
Hope you enjoy:
‘Twas the night after hunting season,
And all ‘round the table
Our family was dining on pancakes with maple.
The children were chatting with food in their mouths,
While their father and I cried in vain, “That’s uncouth!”
Within we were warm, but without the night air
Would threaten to freeze anyone stuck out there.
When on our front door a loud knock was heard,
And I sprang from my chair, wond’ring what had occurred.
Away to the door I flew, braving the night,
Unbolted the deadbolt and switched on the porch light.
When what to my mind there arose such a scare,
For none other than an officer did I see standing there.
I calmly collected my wits, for I had
No reason to think we’d done anything bad.
“Hello, can I help you?” My interest piquing,
“Is there something the matter? Or something you’re seeking?”
“Sorry to bother you,” the officer did start,
“Are you aware there’s a young deer injured in your yard?”
At these words, all the fam’ly with interest flew
To the dining room window. I asked, “What can we do?”
While our kids watched the young buck with dignity lay,
The officer told us the game warden was on his way.
It appeared that the yearling might be too maimed.
His back seemed to be broken— he could not be saved.
Considering the state of affairs, we did fix
To warn our boys in advance to know what to expect.
Our oldest and youngest took it in stride,
But our sensitive middle son’s eyes opened wide…
“They’re going to kill it?!” He cried in dismay.
We calmly explained it was the only way.
Then my dear husband, ever the opportunist, asked
The officer what would be done with the carcass.
“Well, I don’t see why the warden wouldn’t just give it to you;
I’ll ask— In the meantime, do you have a .22?”
We did not, so nothing remained but to wait.
I felt the urge to offer the cold deer a blanket.
Talk turned to how and when it must have all come about:
A hit-and-run likely—at twilight, no doubt.
Meanwhile the deer kept his poise and maintained
His dignity, in spite of the shock and the pain.
We felt sad for the creature, even as we devised
To have the deer butchered and added to our food supply.
And we marveled how such a misfortune for one deer could be
A boon and a blessing for our whole family.
(As I write this, I pause to say—though some may object
To a poem devoted to such a macabre subject—
That this composition, though hardly euphorial,
May be this young deer’s only passing memorial.)
At long last, the deer lost its battle with death.
Before the warden arrived, he had taken his last breath.
So we broke the sad news to our boys, and invited
On behalf of the deer, a moment of silence.
Then the game warden came and all turned to business,
Paperwork filled out, and now we owned the carcass.
And the game warded waved as he drove down the hill:
“A safe winter to you all—Enjoy your roadkill.”