She-Wolf

Copyright © Isabella Dalzell 2019. All RIghts Reserved.

She-Wolf by instinct alone

navigates traditional tracks

untrodden for two hundred

years. Ousted from her pack,

fleeing the new Alphas after

the death of her own Alpha-Male.

 

She-Wolf treks four thousand miles

from the Italian Dolomites

across the mountainous terrains

of Austria and Switzerland,

through foxgloved forests edged

with willowherb and gooseberry

spiked fern nestling strawberries

and the scatter of fir cones.

 

She-Wolf scrapes a den, gives birth

sheltered by a fallen log.

In the mountain hide pups born

blind and deaf, littermates

weaned in isolation,

Snuggling chin upon spiny back.

 

She-Wolf is forced to leave them

hidden in the undergrowth

in her search for food keeping

far from humans and the

territories of others.

Unable to hunt without

her pack, starves.

 

She-Wolf scratches for grubs

and reptiles, nibbles berries

and grasses, finds an occasional

snack of carrion; a mouse or hare,

brings them home for the pups.

 

She-Wolf scavenges; the pups

are prey for wildcat and eagle

but tentative steps are taken

soon the pups are outward bound

playful, leaping, jumping

discovering life, astonished

by every leaf and twig,

every lizard, every beetle,

every movement of the wind.

 

She-Wolf journeys on, six pups

trotting close behind. From a

mountain ridge surveys an impasse

the trail now smothered

by concrete far below.

 

Mum leads them through the night-time

city, through twisting backstreets

taking them past all dangers,

crossing the glowing bridge,

they ford the vast and turbulent

river passing through the valley

to re-join the mountain trail

on the other side

while the humans sleep.

 

She-Wolf leads them to a new

home. Finally, they reach the

green-sloped sanctuary

of Mercantour, its bouldered

river penning them safe.

She-Wolf sits alone,

triangular, front paws outspread

astride karst limestone peak,

shrouded by leafy oak and fir.

Raises her white throat

salutes the moon with baleful yowl

Night after night.

She is heard.

 

A young male swims across the lake

climbs the steepled gorge into

a tobacco-tinted dusk.