Wednesday, July 09, 2008


to Julia and Ira

Fifty years ago, she was my sole companion.
When she became sick, they prescribed sulfa drugs,
which damaged her kidneys.
I was alone so they sent me to the woods,
where the old man appeared on a mule,
carrying a rifle in his right hand.
He wore a straw hat and overalls
he ordered from a Sears catalogue.
He chewed tobacco,
while he read the Bible.
There was no place for me,
so I slept on an army cot in the parlor,
where I dreamed of wolves.
Each night I looked deeply into their eyes
and read their thoughts
until finally my eyes turned yellow
and my nose resembled a snout.
For fifty years I have run with the pack.
Not long ago I faltered and fell
and ended up in a hospital,
lying next to a man who was dying.
In a febrile dream a gray wolf ate my liver
and I felt an excruciating pain.
When I awoke my roommate was dead.
The nurses whispered prayers
in Spanish as they removed his body.
When I was alone I sniffed
and caught the rank smell of the wolves
that had come that night and taken him.
I could feel them watching me
with their yellow eyes,
asserting their dominance,
asking when I would give up
and leave the pack.
I barred my teeth
and raised my head
and howled.

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