Hell is A Deer on a Highway—Emma Buckley

your car, your body, 
driving over an unspecific limit, 
the rain like radio static, 
fog as thick as a fever dream, 
just as hard to break, 
darker than the mouth you keep seeing 
in your sleep, 
that opens and opens and won’t snap shut, 
venus fly trap that is always hungry, 
eyes that are always fixed on your head 
through the side windows, the back windscreen. 

building speed like a crash in reverse, like a tape 
unravelling, like the word dismantlement written 
in unfamiliar handwriting. it’s just you, driving. 
you don’t know anything.  
the treeline melts into nothing beneath a darkness 
blacker than an ocean tar spill, 
and still your foot is on the accelerator. 
the thing you are running from is still coming,
like a horror film, it’s in the back seat, hidden by 
camera angles and your frantic readjusting 
of the rear-view mirror. 

the deer steps into view, wearing its antlers 
like bared teeth. 
your foot meets the break, almost too late, 
and you’re crawling to a stop like a thing playing dead. 
it’s not in your head. you aren’t alone here. 
and the thing that is coming for you is still coming. 
the deer’s eyes glint like knifepoints.
the thing that is coming for you won’t stop.
it’s you and this creature, unshifting, forever. 
which of you is the prey here? which of you is the headlights?
hell is a deer on a highway, and it won’t blink first.

Emma Buckley is a Northern Irish writer at Queen’s University Belfast, currently working towards her BA in English with Creative Writing. Her work can be found, or is forthcoming in, Superfroot, The Honest Ulsterman, The Apiary, and Terrier. She herself can be found writing strange love stories in a quiet corner somewhere on campus.

photo by Philipp Pilz (via unsplash)