The antlered buck killed,
slung over the Chevy's hood.
The open-eyed head lobbed over
the edge, tongue out, blood
from the mouth scrawled down
the car's side like lightning,
like a signature.
That year, when I was twelve, we got the phone call.
Granddad was ill, very ill. Dying, maybe. In fact,
he might not live out the week. Hastily, Dad
pushed his two-week vacation through, and we hurtled
eastward, sixteen-hundred miles, to Texas. Loading
the car, Dad hung his gray suit coat on the window hook,
my side. He hardly ever wore it. It loomed
mostly at the wall-end of his closet. At first
I didn't know why he was taking it. But it came
to me, as I sat next to it in the window. All the way,
over mountains, across deserts, its gray fabric
scratching my left ear, it threw its man-shaped
shadow on me, arms still at its sides, black headless
profile in a sunny pane, like a silent movie star,
or rumor, hulking theremy grave companion
eastward every mile, as we drove toward Death.