Two Poems

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Deer Crossing Chief Noonday Road

drag themselves to the shoulder
or are hauled from the road by Samaritans
armed with shovels.

A doe sleeps peacefully intact
at the apex of a curve, a glancing blow
easing her into the next life.

But most are split by impact,
halves somersaulting where we’d least
expect joy

grateful to be spared
the expression on their muzzles.
Occasionally gore steams in the median.

Best stare straight ahead.
Patches of rust on the pavement, spilled paint
or stains from orange barrels—what we used to think.

But the deer, their bodies fly
over the roof racks at 75 miles per hour
unravel into maps crows can consume across county lines.

In that instant we’re left with a crumpled hood
tufts of bloodied fur,
and behind us, a black rock

captured in the next set of lights.
Each driver swerves for the sharp stone. No.
Hoof attached to tawny ankle.

 

Descant

I think of suicide when I throw back the morning quilt,
the blinds furred white with dust and dawn. A cat’s in
bed with me. I could smother it, but I wouldn’t feel
anything.

I think of suicide when I take my pills, the right numbers
and colors at the directed times. Today I had to spit out
one because my tongue knew there were too many.

When I slice carrots and potatoes, especially Hubbard
squash, it could be suicide. When I plug in the toaster,
when I reach into the fire place and yank open the flue or
bang on the icicles with an andiron.

I think of suicide staring at Facebook flashing past. I
linger over animals, their blank expressions we call love
unbearable.

How did two of my brothers arrive at that half-finished
destination before me? Still young, they taunt me: Who
is the chickeniest chicken of the night?

In the light of all things small and beautiful, under a
canopy of happiness, I think of suicide that way others
contemplate blue jello or one cat hair on a neat lapel.

I think of nothing as I glide expertly through the slow
trees of the interstate. The gas light is on; thirty miles to
go. The accident will look like an accident, but reader,
you will know.

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About Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Elizabeth Kerlikowske is strictly Midwestern and likes to write outside in the sun when there is any. She's the author of five books of poetry, and her work appears in many journals. She is also the president of Friends of Poetry, a nonprofit in Kalamazoo, Michigan, dedicated to poetry.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske

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