Driving back into town on Chestnut,
I saw several deer grazing on brown grass,
just past the edge of the woods
in that flat span between trees and pavement.
The dense gray overcast made it hard to tell
exactly what time of day it was
but the clock and their feeding
made me think it must be somewhere close to dusk.
If I had just kept on driving by
they wouldn’t have batted an eye
but stopping the car
sure brought those heads up.
A couple stepped closer,
ears tilted forward, eyes focused,
a few millennia of instinct
only slightly dulled by decades of proximity.
All five moved in close together for a moment,
facing one way or another,
and then bounded into the thin edge
of cedars and oak and elm.
As the older ones paused
and looked back at the car,
the two yearlings butted and pawed
at each other, amidst the saplings.
I felt a twinge of guilt
for having interrupted their feeding
but would have to admit
I was grateful for our meeting.
I’m guessing that any perception of blessing
was probably pretty one-sided.
Most likely, they soon resumed their eating
and I still made it to my meeting on time.
I’ve seen worse interactions
between white-tailed deer
and passing motorists
who thought they were headed