American Life in Poetry: Column 650


I've lived in the country for thirty years and during that time my wife and I have hit four deer. All of them leapt away over the nearest fence, unharmed, leaving our cars with hundreds of dollars' worth of damage. But, hey, the deer lived. The deer in this father-daughter poem also happily survives. It's by Kevin Casey, who lives in Maine, and is from his book And Waking . . ., from Bottom Dog Press.

Driving West through Somerset County

The sun climbed the rigging of a mackerel sky,
with me and my daughter following west,
and then the sudden, thick lashed, chestnut eye
of that poor deer, flashed as we collided.
Busted bumper, her bounding toward the pines—
clean-limbed, light, and sapling-sound, she vanished.
Stopping on the shoulder, I dreaded what damage
my own poor dear and her thick-lashed, chestnut eyes
had suffered, struck by their shared innocence
and that awful force; but her beaming face,
sunflower-broad, was filled by this thrill,
with her eager as the deer that the day
might move along, and the sun—without
looking down—should keep to its climbing.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Introduction copyright © 2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.