TROPHIC CASCADE

                             on introducing wolves back into Yellowstone National Park, 1995

 

We feared the crunch of cartilage

would be audible in every part of the park,

translate to swing-setted backyards.

 

But we were not ever the prey.

We were always the teeth that took

the shoots from the valleys,

 

crippling cottonwoods, keeping

beavers from building dams

with ripe, fallen aspens.

 

Without us, the rivers in gorges

are smiles with pools like dimples,

fixing their banks in time.

 

Jen Karetnick has been published in various literary journals, including Negative Capability, One, Painted Bride Quarterly, Spillway, and Verse Daily. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, most recently the full-length books American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, 2016) and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, 2016).

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