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April is the Coolest Month – Just Poets Favorite Poem for April 26

As part of National Poetry Month, Just Poets members will share their favorite poems along with a brief note about why the poem is their favorite poem. Today’s poem is selected by Donna M. Marbach.

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William Stafford

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.

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Just Poets Member Statement:

Extraordinary in its deceptive simplicity, this poem while easily understood, is carefully crafted with sounds, imagery, and philosophical dilemma. It begs to be read and reread, each time revealing new layers.

– Donna M. Marbach

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“Traveling Through the Dark” appears in The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems, which is available by clicking here.

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