I imagine I read this in high school — it was probably printed in some book we used in a long-forgotten English class. The class itself might be forgotten, but the emotion I felt from the words of the poem are not.
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason—
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.
I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.
I found the video below this morning. In it the poet talks about the inspiration behind the poem, and reads it at the end.
When I first read it as a teenager I thought he made the wrong choice, but as I grew older, took on more responsibilities, I began to understand his decision.