Poem From Which Wolves Were Banished
Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Winter is hogging the canvas tonight.
The cat and I lie curved at the edge
of the world,
well on our way to becoming a statistic.
On the far side
of white hills, gods propped on elbows
finger-paint clumsily a road,
a few trees,
blood tracks through snow
and this, the only home that’s known—
a four-letter word with me in it.
I’ve grown complicated at life and need
to fold myself repeatedly
like an evolving organ.
Winter was simple once,
the year’s spare room.
Sure as the blanks of my eyes
and covering a great distance.
There poets scanned a row of crows as serial commas
along a bare, listening branch.
Or saw the wind
strip off the leaves like gloves.
As though nature were an open book.
Now hardly that, more texture blind
as braille to the sighted,
as the animal’s fur I smooth.
How winter gets through us.
Pulse of a season.
(Ribs giving slightly at each breath)
Its truths chiefly horizontal.
Its drift toward dormancy resisted only
by the upright door, the furnace flame.
What hunts in winter has no store.
I’m half-sure the creature
out in the center of the road
has something in its mouth
so the wind does the howling
for them both.
But it’s a song I’ve been taught to ignore.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro