Wilderness

THERE is a wolf in me
fangs pointed for tearing gashes
a red tongue for raw meat
and the hot lapping of blood

I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it
to me and the wilderness will not let it go.


There is a fox in me
a silver-gray fox
I sniff and guess
I pick things out of the wind and air
I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers
I circle and loop and double-cross.


There is a hog in me
a snout and a belly
a machinery for eating and grunting
a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun
I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.


There is a fish in me
I know I came from saltblue water-gates
I scurried with shoals of herring
I blew waterspouts with porpoises
before land was
before the water went down
before Noah
before the first chapter of Genesis.


There is a baboon in me
clambering-clawed
dog-faced
yawping a galoot's hunger
hairy under the armpits
here are the hawk-eyed hankering men
here are the blond and blue-eyed women
here they hide curled asleep waiting
ready to snarl and kill
ready to sing and give milk
waiting
I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.


There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird
and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want
and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes
And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.


O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart
and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where
For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.

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