Natalie Giarratano is the author of Big Thicket Blues (Sundress Publications, 2017) and Leaving Clean, winner of the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry (Briery Creek Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Beltway Poetry, Tupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, and American Literary Review, among others. She earned a Ph.D. in creative writing from WMU and is currently a mentor for AWP’s Writer to Writer Mentorship Program. She edits and lives in Fort Collins with her partner and daughter.
Asena, the Gray Wolf, to Tu Kuëh, after Many Years
I’ve dented the side of an iron
mountain with my head. What can
I say: out of frustration. Tried to
hide it with tree bark but, honey,
nothing hides itself well enough
once a whole empire has walked
out of a woman, this woman who
doesn’t mind doing all the work
and respects that you are all torso
and pretty face and the father
of legions of limbs. But sometimes
I do wish I’d found you before they
removed your arms and legs
so I’d have something with which
to pin you down. These lupine muscles.
This longing for reciprocated touch.
I’m sure the flesh of your belly is some
divine window I have yet to learn
to look into at the people after us—
children with their hearts licked clean.
I sense this is all dissolving. The smell
of your skin on my fur is almost extinct.
Our bodies have stopped communicating.
No guts to spill, not even to spew.
Sometimes I think of the coldness of these
metal Altais. Mine and yours. So cold
with our lack of want for what gravity
owns. In this sedentary life you have no
choice but to claim, even storms that fly
down to us from the mountains
into these valleys of wasting away
are miraculous. The lightning awakens
instincts forgotten in this dale
with no memory that tries to erase
us with its silence—its slow, deep breaths,
its green sighs. But instinct eventually
comes back to me, like misunderstanding.
Say: Loyal dog. Where else could I be at home?