Deer Madness

by AMANDA NEWELL

They’re out there now, careening across frost- hard fields, springing onto roads like Olympic gymnasts—so many accidents waiting. On my way to you (we only have the night), I watch for them— the deer—brown sliver skimming pines, white tuft of flicking tail in twilight. In the parlance of hunters, it’s the peak of the rut, when a doe, I’m told, will sometimes abandon her young to breed again. Envy the freedom. The no-thought- to-consequences-of it. But selfish is what I said the day my neighbor sent her girls to school, then left for Texas with her lover. No one suspected, least of all her witless husband. Still, the signs had been there: her sudden weight loss (desire thins), her new job (mere pretext). And her children? I can’t stand looking at them anymore, their moon-blank faces at the bus stop. What could they know of the body, how it goes where it must? I’m close to you now—about to turn when I’m head-on with the doe—she’s running straight into my lights. And I can see it in the wet glint of her dark eye—that wild hunger—before she’s gone so quickly I wonder if I’d seen her at all. Or, if anything could stop her.

AMANDA NEWELL’s work has appeared in publications such as Bellevue Literary Review, Gargoyle, Pearl, Poet Lore, War, Literature & the Arts, and Zone 3, among others. She has been awarded scholarships by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and The Frost Place and has also been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She teaches English at The Gunston School on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and is currently pursuing her MFA at Warren Wilson College.