THE YOUNG BUCK
Over a foot of fresh snow fell, that mystical
salve. I crutch through heavy drifts
trailing our naughty dog, Lib, jeans soaked to my knees.
I read the State finally built grassy overpasses
for wildlife to safely cross highways.
There’s one nearby. You’d have liked that, John.
Do you recall the young buck on Highway 40’s overpass?
He lay there, antlers fuzzed, leg broken, splayed—
and alert while an officer directed traffic
with the vigor of conducting Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
I made you pull the car over and gazed into the buck’s
big eyes, as if the trust in them would save him
from Animal Control’s needle. Crying, I asked you
if they’d spare the deer, take him to refuge.
They’ll kill him, you said. It’s merciful.
And then, it was you, lying there,
splayed on the couch, your buck’s eyes
wet with that same defenseless hope.
Lindsey Royce’s poems have been published in many journals, including Aeolian Harp #8, #7 and #5; Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts; The Hampden-Sydney Review; The New York Quarterly; Poet Lore; and Washington Square Review. Her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Royce’s first poetry collection, Bare Hands,was published in September of 2016, and her second collection, Play Me a Revolution, published in September of 2019, won second place for poetry in the 2020 Independent Publishers Book Awards.