I’m driving my Subaru along Lime Street, the Charter School on one side,
an open field on the other when a deer trots onto the road heading towards me.

I stop. The deer stops. A man on a bicycle pulls up behind the deer and watches.
The deer’s a yearling and assesses the scene, head high, his body perfect, young

and limber like a runner poised for the race. He gazes straight ahead.
He doesn’t see me only my car: a weapon that, if deployed, could take him down.

Not a chance: not bullets and death headed for a man reaching for oatmeal
in a city supermarket, the shooter having driven 200 miles to make sure

he’s got Black shoppers, his particular insanity. Bang, bang my brother would holler
as he aimed his toy gun, playing. We thought he was cute, not destined to fill with blather

about maleness and guns and the power to kill. But no guns here, please,
not on Lime Street where the deer only has to share the space with a car

and a bicycle, where someone calls 911 and the deer speeds across the open field
and into the narrow woods promising freedom, possibly safety.

Claire Keyes has published two books of poetry: The Question of Rapture and What Diamonds Can Do and the chapbook One Port. She received a grant in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and a Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Professor emerita at Salem State University, she lives in Marblehead, MA.