“In Praise of Wolves” October 20th, 2005
I’m searching for something.
Flipping through pages, reading poem after poem – –
other people’s words.
Not yours or mine,
yet we both latch onto them;
they’re saying what we cannot,
what we censor out so as not
to frighten others away.
It creates an expanse between us – –
poems are open to interpretation
as caresses are not.
Are we inferring the same meaning, ever?
And will we not say? What if never?
I’m longing for a touch,
the way you tapped my shoulder last time – –
Unmistakable, that you exist.
But when you leave, I am more alone
than you will ever know.
Jackals set in, and they will tear me down
to shreds you will not recognize.
I howled with wolves once,
I have never told you.
It was sunset on a lake near Canada,
I opened my throat and let the
pain pour out, let the mournful
chorus fill my ears – – they answered back,
the wolves. It is my theory
that pain transcends boundary – –
hurt to a wolf is the same as to a child.
My heart speaks that primitive language.
I reached into the place where
words are not enough, and found
vowelled syllables for my pain.
Suffering rang out across the lake,
something the loons were used to.
Wolves understand how to sing
I’m flipping through pages,
Searching for words
to say the unsayable,
The unnamed that is left uninterpreted.
I want to howl until my voice
goes raw, my throat cracks – –
I want to tell you something
in the primitive language of wolves.
In the language grownups have forgotten
how to understand.
Tell me, what is your response?
Would you howl back after a pause,
as my wolf packs did?
Or would you bolt like any deer
that senses the predatory near,
and write off the wolf-response
as only other children on other lakes,
as my father did?
I require faith, inference, touches, words – –
I require patience, mostly,
or I will be the deer that darts away.
Find the poem that answers my howl
and I will find the touch that
answers your response.
We must make language where we cannot speak.
Copyright © 2005 Sarah Toshiko Hasu