, when I was eleven or so,
and I went to his office
I do not remember
As we left, I thought of home
and the places my father goes
when he is not there.
His office was full of signs of a life secret
s played on landscape
as we drove home.
I saw two men by the side of the road.
They knelt in the too-bright light
before their pickup truck
and they held a fawn
by its head and legs.
I did not know why
The fawn was kicking in terrified agony
the faces of those men were grim
And we stopped at a red light
I rose in my seat to look some more and shiver
thinking of the fawn and its head and its hooves:
tearing at the pavement
One of the men brought his arm in an arc
over the head of the deer
(like a shaman like a healer)
and crushed its skull with a hammer.
The fawn stopped suddenly.
It did not revel in death
I was filled with terrible fascination by the spectacle
and I asked my father why they had done
what they had done.
He turned to me and half-smile
d through his beard.
they had to because they hit it with their truck
says my father-memory
and they could not let it suffer.
It was years before I really learned that compassion
sometimes travels under different names.