We named you out of prejudice,

thought you ravenous, ignorant

that the poor soils you inhabit

indicate not predation but strength.


You thrive in barrenness,

making up what the earth lacks

with what you pull from air.

Wolf—you should be called magician.


You’re poisonous to livestock

and so despised by those with no regard

for downtrodden roots

or teeth-pocked leaves and pods,


but brazenly the land you call

home blooms alive with color,

and your death leaves your home

much richer than before.



Jeff Fearnside has had poetry appear in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Paris Review, Los Angeles Review, The Fourth River, Permafrost, and Forest Under Story: Creative Inquiry in an Old-Growth Forest (University of Washington Press). Honors for his work include writing residencies at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest and the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, a Peace Corps Writers Poetry Award, and an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship. Fearnside teaches writing and literature at Oregon State University.

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