At a Rest Area Outside Des Moines

Photo of a buck beside trees


Cheryl sees it first,

a deer as white

as a child’s paper cut-out

grazing with the herd

in the sunset stubble

past the parking lot

where we’ve stopped

the company car.


She points and gasps,

“Where’s my camera?”


John, consulting his iPhone,

says it could be

a very rare albino,

but more likely,

it’s a piebald

with a tiny patch

of brown somewhere

on its underbelly.


The light from the

fading sun is painting

the white deer

yellow and red.


I start to ask what

difference it makes

what we call it,

but Cheryl is digging

her camera out of

the backseat. She fiddles

with the telephoto lens

and curses God

for dead batteries.


My left foot wobbles

in my high-heeled shoe.


“1 in 30,000,” recites John,

still reading statistics

from the screen.


My fingers itch

and stiffen. My grip

on my purse strap loosens.


“What are you doing?” cries Cheryl

when I crouch on all fours.


But I don’t answer her.

My ears twitch, and I

spring over the barbed wire

fence and sprint

into the glow.


Poem by Gwen Hart

Gwen Hart teaches writing at Montana State University Northern in Havre, MT. Her second collection of poetry, The Empress of Kisses, won the X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press.