The Fawn

︎︎︎ Alexander Matthews

︎ JULY 19, 2022

driving home
after my last evening shift
in the brine-scrimmed gloaming
approaching the village
work-shattered mind on pop songs
eyes not fully on the road
(it’s true)
flash of khaki
young sinuous shadow
wouldn’t have been able to
stop in time anyway
(I’ll tell myself later)
a glancing smack against the front corner
fawn flying
instant nostalgia for the moment before
this ghastly present
young thing pained panicking
breaking lithe still alive
can’t bear her suffering
want to get Sharp and his gun
did he bring his gun to work
but can’t let her stay in agony while
I drive back to get him
wanting to stop the pain
(I should’ve turned back,
I should’ve turned back)
I rev up and ram into her
she crumples
shaking, parking the car,
running over to her
eyes soft inky pools
staring kindly up at me
alive — or
not quite dead
can’t bear it
what now
drive back to the inn
in the dish pit between tears
trying to force the words out
hit a baby deer… might still be alive
Jake hugs me
says it’s OK
Sharp says the main thing’s I’m OK
this happens all the time
when we get back she’s
straddling the central line
Sharp picks her up like a newborn
places her out the way of other cars
always hated people who kill
animals with their cars
now I’m one of them
wish I could undo
but wishing so
won’t make it so
will it

Alexander Matthews
has called Northern California home since late 2019. The chilly ocean temperatures of his birthplace—Cape Town, South Africa—have proven excellent preparation for his frequent swims in the just-as-frigid Pacific. On land, he’s the Operations Manager for Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, produces copywriting and journalism (for the BBC and others), and also edits the interview publication TONGUES. More at