The Drive Home and the Deer, by John Grey

The drive home is his mother in the long-term care facility
until it’s not.
It’s the sad moment when she can’t put a name to his face
and then thump.

On a dark country road,
her feeble hand slips out of his,
her white hair goes black.
Only her wrinkled lips remain, whisper,
“You’ve hit something.”

He brakes, pulls over.
At last, he’s out of that dreary place,
and at the side of his car,
looking back at where he’s just come from.
No more last rites
disguised at a building
filled with wrecked minds
and smiling nurses.
This is farms. This is forest.

He can make out the shape of a deer by the roadside.
Nothing he can do
but he walks slowly toward it,
heart thumping
as the creature staggers to its feet,
stumbles into the woods.

Maybe it returns to the herd to die.
Maybe its young gather around,
wonder why their mother’s not their mother in the same way as before.

The drive home is never just the car, the wheel, the foot on the accelerator.
His life won’t allow it.


Published 1st of May 2019


About John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes Review.