My son tried to convince me
he could see deer eyes in the dark
by the way light glanced off their pupils,
and while we were driving
over the rise, a deer was in our lane,
head down, no flare in its eyes —
the thing we want most to avoid
is exactly the one we cannot escape.
Each night, the dead would enter me,
a cloud of blue moths
with roughness of a harsh tongue.
A single deer can go in many directions at once —
thoughts, apologies, stars furthering away.
Distance is a child growing up, moving away.
Stars are eyes in the middle of the road.
A deer can vanish, leaving a thump, a dent,
a spider web of glass, brown fur on the fender,
and the body is nowhere or elsewhere,
and for an hour, our hearts raced, dilated
like pupils, having no idea what we had avoided,
our mouths flapping moths in startled light,
suddenly, there is no rush to go home, our road
is dark and sharp as flint, my son’s face flush
as the whitetail. I noticed my eyes were closed
the entire time, but I saw everything I needed to see.
Martin Willitts Jr won the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Contest; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2015, Editor’s Choice; Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, Artist’s Choice, November 2016, and a Central New York Individual Artist Award for "Poetry On The Bus".