Two wolves on rock in autumn

Two Poems by Robert Wrigley

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Dawn, Upper Walton Lake

What was the wolf thinking, seeing me
from the lake’s opposite shore,
just as I saw it, though surely it saw me before.
Standing mostly naked me, peeing me,

smelling exactly like what I was, am,
and always will be me. I was thinking
It’s cold, it’s almost sunrise, then—a slinking
on the other side: wait, not it, but two: them.

So what were the wolves thinking? And why,
when I made the least move—shaking the dew
off the lily, so to speak, as I always do—
did both begin to trot under a gray sky

across the bouldered moraine, headed east
into the deeper wild. Trot became
lope and they vanished among stones the same
shade as themselves, after which I noticed

all through camp, up to and around our tents,
their tracks, everywhere. They must have come
before first light, where they took in some
clearer awareness of us, and then went,

circumnavigating a high mountain lake,
when in mild light they saw me—I must have looked
exactly like it smelled I would—when they took
off at a trot, then a lope, time being theirs to take.



I Want to Praise Her Parts

I want to praise her parts—helm,
gorget, plackart, and greave—but her wounds
(sudden gust, window), which look more
like exoskeletal dishevelment, concern me.
Even me on my belly on the porch,
looming over and looking at her
through a magnifying glass, does not make her
leap or fly. She’s almost an inch long,
her antennae upright and gently curved, her thighs
(if that’s what they are, the muscular seeming
upper parts of her cricket legs) sleek
and symmetrical. Large hypnotic black eyes,
the long stiletto of her ovipositor.
A dozen shades of amber, she is. I would like
to kiss her, she is clear to me through the glass.
Then I see her left ear, just below the knee
of her foreleg, elongate, lighter hued,
and I cannot take my eyes from it.
When she moves, rotates a quarter inch away
from me and appears to be gathering herself
to leap and fly, it turns out she doesn’t,
which may or may not be
because I have begun ever so softly to sing.




Robert WrigleyRobert Wrigley’s most recent book is Box (Penguin, 2017). He lives in the woods of northern Idaho with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes.

Read Robert Wrigley’s second Letter to America poem, published on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, and his first Letter to America, published January 1, 2017, as well as three poems, published originally in Terrain.org.

Header photo by Jim Cummings, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Robert Wrigley by Canese Jarboe.


Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.