i met her at my daughter’s wedding,
but i knew her when she came to me.
kinetic buzzing around her frame — this one was spooked. eyes taking in the
space around her — a she-wolf emerging from a cub-filled den.
hackles raised, ready; oh yes, as i watched her, i knew she was Wolf.
wary. majestic. wild in her abandon, wild in loss and love.
air bristling with my approach — closer, closer, reaching, my hands
placed on her, then the buzzing going through me, as if small stings covered
my fingertips. i felt it like a blessing. a rare thing, her letting my hands so
close. the rare-ness of that. at least today, now. but before…
too many hands, too many hearts had their way with her — took from her
that which was not given freely. no wonder when she speaks,
her voice hums with an undetectable, but unmistakable, growl.
most can’t hear, but i can, and did. she didn’t yet know — i speak Wolf.
she senses intention with any approach. frenzied, purposeful — she hoped her
frenetic motion, her steady soliloquy, twirling faster, faster — would fool
us all; keeping her secret fears safe. born in captivity, this one, with the scars of cruel handlers. born in a cage, she set herself free into wooded-weald
not so long ago, and not long enough. her ears still prick at
unfamiliar rustlings. attempts to tame her failed; expectations and small
minds tried to re-form her vast interior world, subdue her ferocity into
an acceptable shape. her enemies are natural, and unnatural — the
natural enemy she sees easily when on high ground.
the unnatural enemy, dangling the bait of her hidden
desires over the steel claw trap — those are harder for her to sniff out.
she’s fallen for that one a few times too many. but her beauty
covers those scars; her beauty surpasses the night as she howls — an
aesthetic that transgresses convention and challenges the captors she
left behind, bleeding. she’s still so young, this one, but she learns fast. her unsureness — not belonging anywhere, to anyone. not yet. but not never.
an alpha she-wolf needs an alpha mate. if she settles for less, she will devour him in her sleep, then mourn and howl as if the fault is hers. it isn’t.
men know when they have an alpha in their beds.
and if he deludes his own knowing that he is not her match, he risks too much. it will happen before the pair sees it coming: eventually
he will try to tame, change, or overpower. he will not be able to.
then he will cower. and she-wolves don’t abide that for long.
alpha is not a trying, or a doing or a playacting. it is a being.
alphas can sniff out an impostor, from within and without.
they know deep in their wildness, even when they don’t
want the knowing. it is a dangerous thing, attempting to
fool an alpha she-wolf.
dangerous and impossible.
pacing back and forth at the edge of the urban fray,
nose in the air, sniffing out threats, legs vibrating to overpower prey.
fierce, protecting her young, the writhing fur-heap in the den, as she
hunts for solace and sustenance.
her camera lens was trained on me, like a wild golden eye,
she focused, not knowing all i saw, and see, in her —
one eye closed as she clicked moments
and captured me in her photographic claws.
she didn’t know once i saw her, i’d decided to capture her, as well —
but only to tend still-weeping wounds; never to harness or subdue.
i capture as i am captured: to feel power in the thick fur, and in places,
oddly-thin skin: delicate, transparent. i stroked gently, careful to
not puncture, bruise, or startle. yes, she had thick patches of ferocity,
mingled with tender, trembling apertures, hinting at fear, wounds, pain.
she needs hard and rough, and she needs tender and soft.
she needs others near her who know when to use what, and how and why.
as she moved, i could see: past fur, past skin, past hurt,
past fiery rage, past fierce she-wolf instinct —
i saw how she moved, like a dance to fool the hunter,
out-maneuvering him to protect her vulnerable underbelly. and so i told her:
i see you.
she stopped clicking. her camera inched down, away from her
fixed, fierce eye — she asked me:
what do you see?
to challenge another alpha, you must lock gazes, so i did, daring her to stand her ground — knowing she would. i said, looking into those animal-wary,
i see Wolf.
i know my own kind. we are endangered animals, she and i, and i saw her
quest in her whole being — she seeks a pack, a home that fits, so she can
who she is meant to be.
i think she knew i was no enemy then — natural, or unnatural.
i was a different beast altogether — like looking in a mirror, seeing herself in
my eyes — through them.
growling, fur bristling with something other than fear, she said,
i see you, too.
and then she smiled at me, gracing me with a bow of her head, our
gazes still locked. but for just a moment, it wasn’t a smile at all, but a
baring her teeth —
lest i forget:
she-wolves will bite, even those to whom she is
even those whom she
— for cat
— j.a. carter-winward