Once I watched a screen-ready trilogy
of deer graze my front yard
in Iowa, only by the blobbed bulbs
of their eyes in the dark.
In the dark, our eyes have the rods to see
only in black and white.
A triad: a father, son, and some
downed spirit. Forgiven in trespass.
I need to stress
the pacifist element here.
I did not see the deer frozen
in the middle of the road
nor strike one with my car
because I am not a white poet
writing about the same deer
for two centuries.
Even if I had struck, my car is not
a Volvo, evolved to survive
striking a full-grown moose,
ramming its legs full-speed
and getting crushed by its body, for
Swedish and Canadian drivers
only. For even if I had killed,
my non-existent gun is not
a Glock, intelligently designed to fire even
if the muzzle
is stuffed with sand. That’s only “merciful
bullet” in McGuffin.
You share your hazing rituals
about panicking and grabbing
a picnicking doe, set
in concrete. A kettlebell of a deer,
when the ask was to bring back gnomes.
True story, staggering
as Sisyphus under his boulder of faith
in privilege. The most stressed
test: where to leave the carcass
in the dark frathouse basement. How to care for
the metallic scratches it left on your brother’s car.
Which mechanisms are built to survive.
Here we go, you’ll say, the race card
I’ve never played. Here’s to the poem of gray areas
I’ve never written. Here
we’ve bitten the bullet.
Stella Wong is a poet with degrees from Harvard and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Wong's poems have appeared in Poetry, Colorado Review, Bennington Review, Narrative, the LA Review of Books, and more. She is the author of AMERICAN ZERO (Two Sylvias Press, 2018) and SPOOKS (Saturnalia Books, 2022).