In the middle of the night, with the deer, by Christine Barkley

I’m standing in the middle of the road, in the middle of the night, with the deer.
The darkness and the silence and their bodies
are fragile.

I know that none of these things are meant to withstand shock—
of light, noise, impact—and I think
that maybe I am not, either.

This is no accident.

I’m praying for eyes pried wide
by two beams through the black—
blinding, deafening, deadly.

I’m praying for prayers powerful enough
to survive my own disbelief.
(I know that I am not.)

I’m praying it will seem that I didn’t mean
for what will happen
to happen.

I’ve come a long way, and I’m long gone.
I know how this will end if I stay here,
and so do the deer.

Christine Barkley is an artist and writer based in the Pacific Northwest. Her writing explores themes of chronic illness, trauma, and nature. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, Salamander, Rust and Moth, and Autofocus, among others.

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