Roadkill 2AM

Far away at 2 AM, awake;
with her silver bells
a gentle chime of frozen roads.

“I couldn’t brake in time,
the doe came rushing out
too late, too fast, I braked in vain”

Sliding to the impact, she broke apart
into bones and sinews,
blood rain on my windshield.
as she lay rag-doll-ditched
across the roots beside the road.

Afterwards — a stillness in the car
mumbling almost tenderly
we waited for a coupe de grace,
the mercy of her death, a mercy just for us.

“Did you dive inside her eyes?
Did you live her death?
Did you listen to her fear?”

Her heart a trembling bell for just a while.
An aimless wail.

Again, again at 2 AM.
Insistent knells – the fading silver of her eyes
just like bells are tears embraced,
Sound is twisted like her broken neck
waiting with the mercy of persistent bells.

“I recall the snow that settled
on her body — rising — breathing one more time,
again, again she breathed, her body rising;
until she trembled and lay still.”

At 2 AM the air is breathless,
panting with our waiting, soft like silver bells;
my breath is stumbling like her heavy heart
I’m crushed by mercy of her bells.

The dead Doe by Gustave Courbet

The dead Doe by Gustave Courbet

Karin challenge us to write poetry on chiming bells at toads. This brought to mind when we witnessed a doe being killed by a car. The worst thing was to watch the poor thing dying. I will link up to Poetry Pantry in tomorrow morning as well.

May 16, 2015

58 responses to “Roadkill 2AM

  1. This is really moving, almost unbearable, You bring a lot of compassion. These two lines were particularly effective:
    At 2 AM the air is breathless,
    panting with our waiting, soft like silver bells;

  2. I have been in that situation–my husband once knocked out/basically put out of its misery a large stag by the side of the road–it had been hit by someone else, and just wouldn’t die (but also wouldn’t live). It is quite a moving experience–you poem captures both the experience and the re-living of it, that happens afterwards–it is very well done, Bjorn. k.

  3. Having hit a deer myself, late at night, this is what it is like. The front of my car was totaled but even more so, my heart. It truly is this painful and this unbearable. You did a beautiful and heartbreaking write here – the bells, chimes, heart…all the references to bells and chimes most effective – except they were all death knells….tremendous work here.

  4. oh this is such a sad write; tears welled up here

    “blood rain on my windshield.
    as she lay rag-doll-ditched”

    have a good weekend

    much love…

  5. Awww, man. This is heartbreaking.
    I LOVE these lines:
    “Did you dive inside her eyes?
    Did you live her death?
    Did you listen to her fear?”

  6. Your poem definitely expresses so many of the feelings that go along with seeing a doe (or deer) hit by a car. It is so sad to witness any creature dying, and especially such a beautiful animal as a doe. We have deer here, and there are five we often see together at sunset. I am always relieved when I see ALL of them! Two years ago I witnessed the body of a doe on our nearby doe. I had to drive by it for a few days before it was eventually taken away…it still sticks in my mind.

  7. Oy, you write this so brilliantly, I could see and feel the silver in her eyes and her heart trembling like a bell. So terribly sad. Evocative, powerful and very beautiful writing, Bjorn. This one hit me in the heart.

  8. Aww this is so saddening.. adored these lines:

    “I recall the snow that settled
    on her body — rising — breathing one more time,
    again, again she breathed, her body rising;
    until she trembled and lay still.”

    Such depth & clarity in the lines..!

  9. Holy hell, that is as sad as it gets and the writing is absolutely amazing. What an emotional experience. the repeating 2 am is very effective. Great writing Bjorn!!

  10. Oh dear! I know one is supposed to give them a quick blow on the head with something heavy, to put them out of their misery — but the one time I hit a small creature, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I got back in the car and drove down the road a little way, where I found some men and asked them to please go back and do it.

    Your poem is beautiful. What else can we do with our terrible experiences but turn them into art, bearing witness, in the hope that others may thereby be saved from such experiences or helped through them? I never wrote about that incident, but now you have done it for me.

  11. This painfully reminded me of a similar accident I had. I once hit a doe. It ran away though so I never knew what happened to her. I still hope she was only hurt.

  12. Oh my goodness. Yes, you captured the trauma of this and the connection with the beautiful beast so well…

    “Her heart a trembling bell for just a while.
    An aimless wail.”

    Wow…excellent piece, Bjorn, truly.

  13. This really is a tearjerker and your poem is such a fitting memorial to all those creatures going about their lives and accidentally meeting one of us.

  14. ‘she lay rag-doll-ditched’ – such a wonderful line…there is a discomfort in this that you hope will be broken by something that makes it ‘better’ – but I suppose reality often doesn’t make that easy…although life does go on..beautifully composed and the sense of the bells ringing in full circle really heightens the feelings

  15. For me, Bjorn, this was really sad. I am thinking that the bells ringing and crashing sounds and feelings were inside your head. My ringing ears got louder as I read this and still are now. Very moving.
    We had a deer run ahead of us last evening on our way home. She was trotting across at first, but after seeing us she broke into a fast lope.

  16. Painfully vivid, Bjorn. I have never had to be in that position, but you made it so universal and real, I was close to tears–this holds the harrowing essence of our connection to all living things, the terror, the grief, even the beauty of relinquishing life. Outstanding.

  17. This is just horrible. You did the writing with such finesse Bjorn. Could feel the heavy breathing of everyone in the car. The deathly movements of the doe at the end was just devastating!


  18. I have an abhorrence of animals being hit by cars, and certainly I am fearful of ever hitting something myself. You capture the helplessness of one who knows they have seen a split second of life and death they would far rather have missed, and the sense of a life energy slipping away is very moving.

  19. At the moment you don’t know what to do – to move forward or to stop the car thinking the doe was hit. Hauntingly beautiful piece of writing Bjorn

  20. I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania – this is a site I know all too well, especially around the fall. The poem brings me back to my children’s heartache the first time they saw a site like that. Sad, but very poignant work.

  21. Powerful writing! I used to live in deer country, and at certain seasons of the year I saw the crushed and mangled carcasses of does and bucks that didn’t make it across the road in time. Your poem brings those terrible scenes to life.

  22. Bjorn, this breaks my heart …you captured the moment with such clarity..but now I am weeping..may her deer spirit run wild on the other side.

  23. tragical, with feeling of presence, happening right now, very alive with questioning the possible help, “diving in”… ~ compassionable poetic expression.

  24. Up near Ithaca in New York State, we used to try all sorts of things to warn away the deer who, like a bullet, had our name on it. One idea was the continued whistle or silver bell sounding gadgets that we could put on the hood. But, oh, you put the bells in the deer’s breathe and spirit that wants to live. This poem shook me into the stillness that finally came with death.

  25. “a gentle chime of frozen roads”—so descriptive of what it’s like…as is the rest of the poem, too—you are the King of descriptive writing, Bjorn. You have a way of capturing those moments for exactly what they are like. This one is heartbreaking, makes the reader hold his/her breath waiting for the doe to take her last. Wow.

  26. We get this all the time down here. The deer in our area are way over populated. We have even had extra hunting periods. I have hit them. I have killed them after being hit to spare their pain. I also have some that live in the back yard, and each year I mourn those that dont return, and yet praise the new young that are with them.

  27. So very moving and sad. I could feel your waiting for her death. Excellent writing.

  28. you have captured the emotion and pain so clearly here.
    we don’t have deer over here, the roadkill are mostly small animals like dogs and cats. the other day i rode across a bird (most likely it was already a roadkill) in my mountain bike and it shook me up very badly. 😦

  29. The mercy…just for us. That is a powerful statement, that we long for an animal’s death more to assuage or guilt than for the sale of the injured creature.

  30. I’ve seen the dead and the wounded but I’ve never witnessed an animal dying in front of my eyes. It would be unbearable and haunting, very similar to the emotion captured in your piece.

    – Enigma

  31. So sad, so heart wrenching, Bjorn.

    About two years ago, I stepped accidentally on a kitten and as I witnessed its death throes I felt so bad I couldn’t eat for days. Though I don’t like pets, my husband does and I felt so terrible. Its mother looked at me with the most huge and despaired eyes. I have never forgotten.

  32. Hey Bjorn, I have never been in this situation but I could imagine the slow motion-ness of it all. And the peaceful way she would be in her stillness. Deers are like mythical creatures to me. They are majestic, shy, and forbidden beings who venture on their own and yet die in the presence of us and our world. Very sorrowful and intriguing this poem is.

  33. I was very moved by this. You’ve captured, what felt to me, like an aggressive, unwelcome intrusion by a machine into the habitat of a living thing – with cruel consequences.

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