December 21, 2019 by The Citron Review
by David J. Bauman
after William Stafford
I’d like a word with the white-tailed buck
whose eyes followed mine one night
from the edge of this woodland road.
You seemed so calm, so self-possessed,
as I drove by too fast and you stood still.
Tonight, I plead with you, teach me how
to be both wary and serene. I have driven
this route so many times, I imagine you’re
familiar with my rolling thrum of tires,
though tonight I can’t recall whether fog
carries or deadens waves of sound. I know
these yellow lines go on, beyond this haze
of headlights. I’m trying to keep some form
of faith, and I’d like to put my trust in you.
My son resides in those rooms again, in the
ward between these woods and rows of corn
where I’ve seen your family graze at dusk.
It’s late, but you did not acquire those antlers
by being careless or unwise. There’s a gully
and a stream that can’t be seen below this
tangled wall of mountain laurel. I pulled over
in the dark, rolled the window down, inhaled
the scents of forest, listened as water poured
over rocks that must be still as your dark eyes.
Is this your way? Sniff of air, flick of ear, steady
before you cross. No sudden step or swerving.
Hooves on blacktop—and into the wild.
David J. Bauman is the author of two poetry chapbooks, most recently, Angels & Adultery, selected by Nickole Brown for the Robin Becker Series (Seven Kitchens Press, 2018). He has new poems published or forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Third Wednesday, and Lovejets, Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares and Rebels, 2019). His poetry reviews have appeared in Windhover and Whale Road Review.