In Praise of Wolves

“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

            the unspeakable.




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