What if we pulled over,
got close enough to feel the death-rattle
shake the air against our skin?
Offered regret for getting in the way
with our roads, our tires, our glass?
What if we didn’t abandon them
to the cement until there was nothing
but a dark stain, a rope of hide, a splintered bone?
What if we cupped the dwindling warmth
of the struck bird?
Held it long enough that it cooled in our hands,
shed tears onto the feathers of bent throat and broken wing?
What if we took them to the woods,
an offering given over in kinship with maggot and crow?
What if we took the time to give them to the soil,
death greening life for future living?
What if broken raccoon, stilled possum and lagging deer fawn
were adorned with roadside flowers and grieved?
Piled high by passersby with the dandelion, hawksbeard, red clover
—the beautiful weeds.
River Hall is a poet, wildlife tracker and environmental educator. Her writing is deeply influenced by wild encounters with the more-than-human world. She has an M.A. in education from Antioch University Seattle. She can often be found wandering the verdant edges of the Snoqualmie Valley of Washington State.