Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Traveling through the Dark with Kids

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After William Stafford's Traveling Through the Dark

She darkened the side of the road.
A shadow in dust and gravel.

My son is three.
Full of speed and plans—
He loves to run.
And sometimes it's into the road.

I have shouted, then screamed.
Pleaded, then threatened.
Still he runs into parking lots,
across the street to the park,
to our mailbox down the middle of the road.

And so, when I see the deer I pull over.
Unbuckle his five-point harness,
scoop him into my arms.

"This is what death looks like." I tell him.
Blood trickles out of her nose,
A soft pink bone juts out of her leg.

My son clutches me tightly.
"Look: she has a big owie,
her body doesn't work anymore.
She ran into the street.
She is dead."
My voice chokes.

"She is dead. A dead deer." My son says.
Tears fill my eyes.

A jogger runs right up behind me
"Are you alright?"

"Yes. Yes." I say.


Janel Davis is a high school English teacher currently on sabbatical to raise her 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. She loves writing poetry and young adult fiction, but can be more often found drawing with her daughter and talking about monster trucks and mermaids with her son. Her writing has also appeared on-line at Trouvé and Maker’s Movement.


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