by John Hicks
I’m driving home for the weekend,
toward sunset fading eastern Nebraska.
Leaving the world of data mapping and test design.
Route 44. County seat to county seat across Iowa.
The last stop sign half an hour ago,
I’m still an hour from the Missouri.
Farmyard lights coming on encase
barns and silos in crystal cold.
Ahead of me, a whitetail in flight.
Approaches the two-lane. I pull over and stop
as she climbs from the swale, beauty
compromised by urgency. Hooves slip
on the pavement until she reaches
the left shoulder. She leaps the guardrail
and slants down the embankment into the trees.
As the light leaves, each farm appears
like a snow globe set out on the prairie.
Before leaving I check for more deer.
There’s a small movement
a quarter mile behind her.
A buck with a magnificent spread.
Tips point upward as though supporting the sky.
He trots across the field, head erect,
nostrils blowing vapor, his pace steady.
I lower my window as he skids to a stop
in front of me, each leg independently
muscling his body’s balance. His head
tilted back, he searches for scent,
the antlers moving side to side across his back.
Shoulder fur sticks out like an engorged collar.
Then the snort—a loud hissing blast.
Black hooves clack on the road
as he struts across, steps over the rail,
plunges head first down the slope.
PHOTO: Doe in the forest. Photo by Pixabay, used by permission.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Interlude” describes an encounter in rural Iowa six or seven years ago.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Hicks, an emerging poet, has been published or accepted for publication by I-70 Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Consequence Magazine, Sheila-Na-Gig, Blue Nib, and others. In 2016, he completed an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He writes in the thin air of northern New Mexico.