She lay on the pavement as the sun rose, her eyes present and wild. She gasped and her tongue hung loosely from her open mouth as she bled out. Her spindly legs twitched and she uttered faint sounds, a mule deer’s death rattle. Tufts of fur were strewn along the road for thirty feet where she must have slid over the rough asphalt after being struck, moments before. We paused and repeated a series of powerful phrases, three times, slow and deep, then bowed as she passed. The females always travel in groups of a few to a dozen, but here she was, alone. The air warmed under a cerulean sky; a solitary breeze turned the long spring grasses into waves, then stopped. It was so still.
Later, John from the County was hoisting her up into the bed of his pick-up, straining to pull her mangled body up a steel ramp intended for mowers or snow machines.
“Just because they’re dumb doesn’t make it their fault. People drive too fast on this stretch.”
“You got that right. I just picked up another one yesterday over on Olde Stage.”
“Thank you for doing this, John.”
We drove the rest of the way up the mountain, slowly, alert and quiet.
-Geoff O’Keeffe 11:V:18