by Thomas Davis
The whiteness wailed with wind-swept waves of snow.
Upon the ice, a dozen miles from land,
The huge man walked into the vertigo
Of emptiness and bitter cold that spanned
Horizons darkening into a night
Intense with clouds that suffocated light.
He heard the wolf before he saw its eyes
Gleamed yellow in accumulating dark.
Its panting separated from the cries
Inside the wind so subtly that the spark
Of fear that nearly made his legs give way
Seemed like the rhythm of the dying day.
The great wolf, coat as black as anthracite,
Loomed like a shadow from a stinging wave
Of snow, a darkness darker than the night,
A vision dredged from dreams born in a grave.
A heavy tiredness weighed inside the man.
The wolf kept eyes upon the path he ran.
As hours passed hours the universe became
A movement shared between the man and wolf.
The storm died down. At dawn a yellow flame
Along the far horizon’s edge unveiled a roof
Of clouds that felt as if they were a vice
Pressed down upon the endless miles of ice.
The man kept staring at the white expanse
Stretched endlessly away from where they were.
He felt his spirit caught inside a trance
Transforming time into a senseless blur
Of wolf breath, gusts of wind, and running feet
Staccatoed pulsing through his heart’s strained beat.
As evening gathered up the winter skies,
The great wolf growled and shocked the man aware.
The yellow eyes looked deep into his eyes.
The storm swirled deep inside the untamed stare.
He stopped. The wolf stopped, growled so low
The storm stirred winds and stinging waves of snow—
And then the wolf was gone into the trees
That forested the hills above the rocky shore.
Alone, but near to land, still not at ease,
He walked toward the cedars bent before
Him like a haven from the plains of white
As suddenly the ice was bathed in light.
Years later, sitting by a council fire
As dancers danced the heartbeat of the drum,
A wailing howl rose from the forest, dire
As if the ending of the world had come.
The big man stood, the council’s patriarch,
And walked, without a word, into the dark.