Tuesday, October 26, 2004


I dropped him off on the highway
in the hills on the edge of town;
when he said goodbye at the blacktop,
I paused and looked around.

There's not much wildness out there now,
I assured myself in thought.
There's only him and trees and
wind that prowls the night.

"I'll be back in when I'm ready,
I'll be all right on the ground.
It's mainly concrete cities
that make us fear the darkness of each sound!"

I left his car in the driveway
and locked the car doors tight;
I was back in the cautious city
where you had to do things right.

Later that week I saw him
and we smoked and shared some beer.
"It's weird to be back in the city—"
he said. Then he told his tale of fear.

"The empty feeling in the heart
comes full as light departs;
the evening may be lovely,
but the night is cold and dark.

The camp light that enclosed me
grew smaller through the night.
Though I built the fire up higher,
the dark consumed the light!

Then I heard those stealthy movements,
soft scufflings in the dark,
and, peering out, could plainly see
two eyes stare back at me!

What eyes they were, I did not know,
nor can I tell you yet;
their mystery was enough for me,
that's what I can't forget.

The first thought that unnerves you
is that the creature's wild—
a "wolf" of some opinion
inimical to man!

And then the worst thought rises
and strikes your heart like iron:
the creature is not wild at all,
but caged and canny man!

That's when the fear beset me,
and began to pack to leave—
but the night was dark around me,
I did not dare depart!

I stayed the night, uneasy,
and strained to keep awake;
when I woke alive next morning,
I gave my head a shake.

I took the city with me,
I guess that's plain to see;
the concrete clung to my bootstraps
and the asphalt pulled at my knees."


5th draft: 10/25/04
©1976 Ronald C. Southern

No comments:

Post a Comment

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here! (At least put on your socks and pants.)