Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Laced with skunk miasma: it was that kind of morning. On the porch, late spring, that long, slow promise of dawn. That vague, uncertain light. The sky an array of greys like suede brushed this way, that way, melting orange sherbet, pastel pink. I inhaled. Somewhere out there on the road nearby a dead skunk. Or somewhere out there in the woods nearby an animal caught in a net of cologne, shot out of fear, clinging like a halo of black flies.

A few hundred yards out the driveway, down the road, near the farm a half-mile south, a brown figure swiftly moves across the road, disappears, a field of fog. A dog, a coyote, a wolf, an other, an unknown, but, slowing down, I see deer. To the right, one deer in a swirl of ground fog looking toward the road. To the left, two deer in a swirl of ground fog looking toward the road.

Another half-mile, now through “town,” now south of “town.” Approaching a crossroads, a deer flashes across my headlights. I proceed slowly. To the right, standing in the middle of the crossroad, a deer, facing east. To the left, standing in the middle of the crossroad, two deer, facing west.

Over the river, past the churches, past the graveyard, onto the highway, moving eastward toward another town, a real town. We crest a low rolling hill and a deer leaps across the road, into the woods, away. Slowing down, watching it disappear, looking left to see if there are more to come. Standing on the edge of the highway two deer. I travel on. A car passes moving in the opposite direction and I watch in the rearview mirror to see … brake lights come on. Another car passes heading in that direction but I lose sight, round a slight bend.

In town the highway ends at US 41. I turn left, heading to the cheap gas station a mile north. I think briefly if I floored it, headed straight, maybe I would end up in the bay, but there are ditches and brush and perhaps too much land—I would not make it so far. Gas is $2.24 a gallon and when I turn around, pass by the gas stations in town, I see prices there are $2.38.

Add nine-tenths of a cent to each gallon.

Rounding the head of the bay, sun rising, a hot orange ball blazing through stillness, still grey, I head east, the sun is north, to my left, across the bay, the bay like glass, a mirror of sky scratched with two dark lines, parallel, cut by geese.

Winding up and away from the bay, between the ceiling tile plant and its mounds of sawdust and the dirt road that leads to the four-thousand-pound copper statue of a Jesuit priest and his snowshoes, a deer lies dead in the middle of the road. We slow down, we move on, we travel an hour or more, see no deer, no other cars, just alongside the road white flowers, trillium, perhaps, blooming in jaunty waves. I wonder if before being slaughtered by a car a skunk sprays its scent.

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