This week’s poem, Wolf, first appeared in Linden Avenue Literary Journal. I finished it not too long after we had visited Alaska on family holiday, but the ideas and first draft actually started a few years prior to that, following a visit to Yellowstone National Park. On neither trip was I able to get a good picture of a wolf.
In Yellowstone, I managed to get a blurry picture of something grayish moving through the woods, from the window of a moving car. But at least you can see something vaguely wolf-sized was moving through the forest.
In Alaska, in Denali National Park, I hung out the window of a tour bus, along with about thirty other people. We each silently pointed our camera lens out the bus windows in the late afternoon light flickering through the trees. None of us got a clear photo. My photo, if you enlarge it until you are practically looking at individual pixels, is a fantastic view of something whitish behind a wide variety of green-colored blurs.
Also in Denali, we were lucky we didn’t topple the old, rehabbed school bus over, since we were all leaning out one side. I bet if you could have seen us from a distance, it would have looked pretty odd.
Thank goodness the human eye is better than a camera lens. Because I and all the other photographers are clear that we saw a wolf. And that the wolf saw us, and then kept on moving, deliberately, not frightened, though definitely not interested in coming any closer to us.
This poem is the sort that touches on a lot of modern undertakings. Tracking & studying animals in the wild to manage fragile populations. The constant need to obtain grant money to do such studies. Watching something happening in the physical world, but only by electronic means. Hacking. Theft. Greed.
Well, theft and greed aren’t so modern. They just take advantage of modern opportunities.
The alpha they track is the female. Already long
tranque’ed, collared, released to the wilds
of managed lands, her collar’s a spark of white
carried across the camera frame on grey-black ruff.
The scientists did not abscond to a bar or the lower
forty-eight with the grant money. They watch,
with summer’s real-time intensity, from a closet
crammed with computers, what will be transmitted
weeks later. Green speck following one of many
once-invisible paths, each now nearly burned
into the screen’s imaginary topography.
By the time the hackers (public money, private greed)
have their way with that signal, she’ll have moved,
her litter remaining visible on-line only in arrears.
If you enjoyed Wolf
If the wolf’s whereabouts were known, she’d be in more danger than if we just left her alone and hoped for the best out there. The fact that conservation information has to be protected from the public that funds it is simultaneously sad and disturbing. To take a somewhat morbid turn on a children’s book: makes you wonder “where the wild things” really are.
You’ll find more of my poems on this blog or in the collection Stars Crawl Out From Their Caves, which is available in both ebook and print. Missed a poem of the week? Links to prior weeks are on this page.
Comments & opinions are certainly welcome. Have a great week!