by robert wrigley
Very early gray-lit morning. I’m shivering
in my boxers, barefoot in sparse high country grass,
pissing, when I see on the lake’s opposite shore,
a solitary wolf, making its way wherever it is
it’s going, half an hour or so before sunrise.
It may be that it senses my shivering before it sees me,
or hears the spatter of my piss, but now there is no doubt
I am something it would rather not see nor especially be seen by.
It picks up its pace and moves back into the trees.
It stops now and then to be sure I haven’t moved,
then at last breaks into an actual run, and disappears
among boulders along an ancient glacier’s terminal moraine.
I do not ordinarily rise so early to relieve myself,
but through the tent flap I could see mist rising
from the cold surface of the lake, still
and dimpled everywhere by feeding trout.
They were feeding, and still are, on mosquitoes,
which are now everywhere on me and likewise feeding,
but I’m still standing here, shivering, knowing
when the sun comes out it will awaken the wind,
and the wind will ruck the surface of the water
to a thousand tiny, soundless waves, and knowing also
that if I stay where I am, motionless, I might yet see
the wolf again, though I do not, and at last
I do a kind of spasmodic dance to shake away
the mosquitoes, and head back to my tent,
when I note, along the way, the massive canine tracks
of a wolf all around the fire ring, all across
the worn campsite ground to within no more
than a foot from the head of my tent
and around the tents of my still-sleeping compatriots too,
which I will point out to them when they awaken,
after I’ve put on my clothes and built the morning fire,
after I’ve lowered the food bags from the tree limb
we hoisted them to last night, and brewed
a pot of coffee, and sat myself on rock,
and slathered bug dope abundantly over
all my exposed flesh, as I wait for the sun to rise,
for the wind to roughen the surface of the lake,
for them to join me here, where I will point out the tracks
and tell them, in great detail, what it is I have seen.