RED WOLF HOWL
Their cries rise sweet and high like questions, cross
each other’s tracks in the air, the wildest din
you have ever heard.
Some rangers caravan
with tourists down a gravel road. No one
can see the wolves: they hide among the pine
and cedar, rusting in the pocosin,
trailing the white-tailed deer. While everyone
parks, two guides hike closer to the breeding pen
and howl encouragement. The canids listen,
but why should they answer us? Some insects moan
to sharpen the silence; secret frogs complain.
The group gives up. It’s nearly dark. Our van
loiters as the other tail-lights vanish. Open
windows. Then we hear them. They ask, and ask.
Lesley Wheeler is the author of Heterotopia, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize; Heathen; Voicing American Poetry: Sound and Performance from the 1920s to the Present; and other books. She has recently published poems in Prairie Schooner and Rattle, and she teaches at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.