Brian Barker

Their fur coats will be like saints' beards soaked in wind. Their eyes will be bone buttons winking in the bramble. They will raid the barnyard, then trot into town, leaving a loose crewel of bloody paw prints on the marble steps of the opera house. In the orchestra pit, the mob will cut open their stomachs and find doll heads, hammers, locomotive smoke, ballet slippers, and the hoof of an ox. They will flee our towns for one thousand years, the dry forests flaming up around them like a box of ancient cigars. When we adjust our dials from some distant place, we will hear only the echo of a loneliness they don't feel. Their howls the zero of radio collars buried in deep snow.





"Wolves" belongs to a sequence of linked prose poems I've been working on recently called "Natural Histories." Each poem in this sequence concerns a different animal, and the poems are linked in that animal images, which occur organically within the poems, dictate the subjects. For example, the poem that precedes "Wolves" is "Turkey Vultures" where I write: "They will descend forever, singed dirigibles corkscrewing blue skies, dreaming of the tart tartare of armadillo, the rank sinewy tangle of wolf."