ALONG THE CREEK ROAD
If one of my workshop students wrote this poem, what criticisms could I possibly make? One might say that although the language itself is relatively free of obviously trite constructions, the poem itself is one big cliché––a prime example of the late twentieth-century “dead animal” poem, the most famous example probably being William Stafford’s “Traveling through the Dark.” In the dead animal poem, the speaker (usually a white, liberal-humanist, upper-middle-class speaker, as far as one can tell) reflects poignantly on his or her experience with some dead animal or other (in Stafford's poem, it’s a pregnant deer that's been hit by an auto), implying in the course of doing so that he or she is also commenting on a set of issues that pertain to the human condition.
-K. Silem Mohammad
Just daylight, a morning in July.
I was riding my bicycle, something I am told
I must do for my heart. Yes, I saw the fawn come
up the path from the creek.
I stopped, steadied my bike, tried to stay quiet.
If it ran into traffic, I would not be the cause.
Then the fawn, spooked by something
on the dark path, broke for the southbound lane.
The car, a blue sedan (there was no time to swerve),
hit the fawn as it jumped––so high, for a fawn, the jump alone
startled me––banging its young body on the windshield;
the car, tossing the fawn into the grass across the road.
But the fawn did not die.
It rose and skittered into the trees, and the blue sedan,
which had only scorched the black of its tires,
scarcely paused before driving on, and I,
heart pounding, certain I could write this
for all of us, pedaled toward home.