The Night Matthew Tried to End the Life of a Dying Deer
that quickness of heart, pushed from a dream
at 2:00 am to darkness.
It was the doorbell. My father, half-robed,
his voice wrestling with wakefulness: Stay there—
don’t come down, his opened palm keeping us on the stairs.
There you were, bloody hands and all,
fumbling with the front door. And you were crying.
I could only see a half of you: your sleeve
wet with crimson blood, your hand
wiping and wiping, your mouth was a line.
This is it, I thought.
You had finally done it, letting sadness
off the long leash. All those afternoons
we thought you gone, imagining you
in the car, in your room, in the woods:
your body pulsing until it wasn’t. All that blood.
Your shoulder brushed the white wall.
I could only hear a half of you: A deer—I tried.
The road widens where you’d driven your truck into the deer.
Panicking with its life, you had pushed a knife into its chest
because you wanted death a little quicker.
Our dad, a shotgun, and you still red and breaking
all vanished back into the night.
When you returned, I watched you lock the bathroom door,
the water ran. I wondered: Did you sink onto
the bath’s edge to place your face in your hands,
a breath escaping, like prayer, through the slice of your lips?
Did that blood feel close enough to yours this time? Did it leave
you wanting? In the morning, the road was bathed
with red, a haunting.