Anne Haven McDonnell
Last night’s rain
fills the mud
rim of this
dark tucking in
of our loose-
like an ear.
THE OLD DOG
We keep him close, leashed.
Each morning, I wipe a dab
of grease in his dry blind eye.
We nuzzle him between us,
worry over tumors and stiff joints.
A metal-pinned hip, mostly deaf,
but his nose keeps growing sharper.
He circles the wolf scat,
raises his head, looks blindly
into the brush off trail.
It’s more than tolerance, learning
to co-exist, the wolf scientist says.
When I let him loose, he limps
ahead, rounds the bend
out of view. What would I give,
I wonder—not this old dog—
my breath caught, tight until
I find him again, sniffing
the edge of trail. On his last hike
to the bluffs, he lay his body down
on a pillow of deep moss. The wolves
sometimes sleep there too.
SHADOW INTO WOLF
On the long low-tide of seal spit, I studied just beyond
of sight—a dark twist of driftwood, black against the sandy bank
of cedar. Thought it’s just like my mind
a branch a wolf snout, profile with two ears pricked
our boat where you load waterproof bags and I rest
I backed away from the killdeer’s broken wing dance,
her nesting space, found this water-worn cedar log to sit
And like a dream swims up to waking, I saw that branch rise and
all at once
become an actual black wolf watching you load our boat.
it’s just like a wolf to sit beyond the horizon of sight, to shapeshift, to
the mind towards what it fears or yearns for. And just like a wolf to stand up
in bodied toothy fact, cut a hole in the forest, all the gathered
and shadow, turn back to trees and leave me
what I saw and how I might tell it.
-from Breath on a Coal (Middle Creek Publishing, 2022), selected by Fall 2022 Guest Editor, Michael Walsh
Anne Haven McDonnell lives in Santa Fe, NM, and teaches as an associate professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has been published in Orion Magazine, The Georgia Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Nimrod, Terrain.org, and elsewhere. Her work won the fifth annual Terrain.org poetry prize, second place for the 2019 international Gingko Prize for Ecopoetry, and second place for the Narrative Magazine’s Twelfth Annual Poetry Prize. Her chapbook Living with Wolves was published with Split Rock Press. Anne holds an MFA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and has been a writer-in-residence at the Andrews Forest Writers’ Residency and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology.