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.