The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Living With Wolves by Anne Haven McDonnell

The Stories

are carried by almost everyone.
Whispered over gas pumps, traded
as currency in aisles at market.
A shadow slipping back to trees.
A white wolf at the corner of Red Rock Road.
Two black wolves, sleeping with snouts tucked
under tails in deep moss on the bluffs.
A wolf eating apples in the orchard,
slurping up seaweed, digging for clams.
The terrier that followed the howls, never
returned. The sheep torn open.
Each story has a pit to carry and turn
over: stone of worry, stone of prayer, warm
against the body, in a pocket
like the one on your thigh
as you bend to gather piles of salt-crusted
seaweed the storm left in a lumpy rope
at tide line. You fill two orange buckets, one in each
hand you carry up the trail below the bluff
to the shrinking compost. The stone
in your pocket starts its soft bleating,
almost bleeding, your skin
lit and honed, prickling
in the undergrowth. Salal berries
glowing red as meat. You step over
fresh scat—still-wet deer fur,
chips of black hoof, shards
of white bone glisten with grease.
In the forest, just beyond sight, a snap
and crack of branches charges
the air between trees. Something
sudden waits for an opening.
Above you, nighthawks thread the evening
sky with boom and whistle.
A loon in salt water wails to a loon
somewhere on the inland lake.

You finger the stone, its wave-worn
surface, its weight—the story
you carry has made you
another animal.

This selection comes from Living With Wolves, available from Splitrock Review. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sunni Brown Wilkinson.

Anne Haven McDonnell lives in Santa Fe, NM where she teaches as associate professor in English and Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She migrates to the coastal northwest most summers. Her poetry has been published in Orion Magazine, The Georgia Review, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, Alpinist Magazine,, and elsewhere. Her poems won the fifth annual poetry prize and second place for the Gingko international ecopoetry prize. @splitrockreview

Sunni Brown Wilkinson’s poetry can be found in Western Humanities Review, Sugar House Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, SWWIM, Crab Orchard Review and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press 2019, finalist for the Hudson Prize) and The Ache & The Wing (forthcoming 2021, winner of Sundress’s 2020 Chapbook Prize).  She also won New Ohio Review’s NORward Poetry Prize and the 2020 Joy Harjo Prize from Cutthroat Literary Magazine. She teaches at Weber State University and lives in northern Utah with her husband and three sons.


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