Here, now, gone

We’re standing in the road
looking at a dead fawn. His truck facing town,
mine headed toward home. It appears to be sleeping
on the double yellow, curled as if in tall grass
or on a down comforter in a video someone has posted
on YouTube about her pet deer. No sign of collision
or gunshot, garroting, heart attack: nothing but spots,
cuteness. The name on his door means he works
on the natural gas pipeline that’ll run
from West Virginia to North Carolina.
The company that pays him has a reputation for ruin
worse than syphilis. Employees have been told
to stay away from locals. They stick to a hotel
near the freeway with a decor I’d call modern roach,
drink there, hone boredom, look at stars.
We both crouch to make sure the fawn is dead.
“What the fuck,” he says, staring at the desert
of my face, where there’s no rain or hope,
only cactus, as I search the dry lake-bed of his.
He looks back at the fawn, brings his hands together
as if waiting for a Communion host,
makes a scooping motion with his hands,
then slides his eyes to the side of the road:
I’m being asked to help save a dead fawn
from the bonus carnage of traffic, the shredding
that suggests life isn’t just delicate
but deserves to be erased.
We are the briefest couple
joined by common cause, move the fawn
and stand briefly as men who have respected loss
for sentimental reasons. Then nod, become ghosts
of a moment we are the custodians of, holders
of the unholdable, wind telling the story of itself
to itself.

Copyright © 2019 Bob Hicok. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Winter 2019.