The Dead by the Side of the Road

THE DEAD BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD

How did a great Red-tailed Hawk
come to lie—all stiff and dry—
on the shoulder of
Interstate 5?

Her wings for dance fans

Zac skinned a skunk with a crushed head
washed the pelt in gas; it hangs,
tanned, in his tent

Fawn stew on Hallowe’en
hit by a truck on highway forty-nine
offer cornmeal by the mouth;
skin it out.

Log trucks run on fossil fuel

I never saw a Ringtail til I found one in the road:
case-skinned it with the toenails
footpads, nose, and whiskers on;
it soaks in salt and water
sulphuric acid pickle;

she will be a pouch for magic tools.

The Doe was apparently shot
lengthwise and through the side—
shoulder and out the flank
belly full of blood

Can save the other shoulder maybe,
if she didn’t lie too long—
Pray to their spirits. Ask them to bless us:
our ancient sisters’ trails
the roads were laid across and kill them:
night-shining eyes

The dead by the side of the road.

~Gary Snyder
    Turtle Island

 

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