"No Wolves, I tell you"



Margaret McLeod

In the forestry display booth

at the Exhibition, I’m the woman

who holds the jaw bone of a deer

in the palms of her hands.

Standing beside a forest ranger,

I show you the differences

between a coyote pelt and a wolf’s.

 

There are no wolves in New Brunswick,

I tell you.  That’s what the biologists tell me.

(They also say eastern coyotes claim

wolves for close cousins,

but I don’t want you scared

when you put out the garbage tonight.)

 

At the forestry field day,

I’m the woman who sits

behind a long table covered

with the excrement of animals.

At the entrance to the wildlife trail,

I challenge you:

which animal made this heap of pellets?

I surprise you:

the twiggy blue mess was made

by the same black bear

who left the tidy brown pile.

The difference is blueberries.

 

The ranger who did this job last year hid

a pile of glossette raisins on the table,

asked you what they were,

popped one in his mouth.

Grinned at the expression on your face.

 

We tell you there are no wolves,

even if you think you’ve seen one.

You didn’t, just a coyote,

devouring your cat,

piling deer bones

in your back field.

 

No need to worry, it’s just a coyote

slinking through those trees,

plotting how to take my lunch away from me.

The big bad wolf would want more.

Coyote’s just a poor relation,

won’t bite too hard.

Relax.

 

Late at night on game patrol,

when there’s nobody around

but owls and field mice,

some rangers believe in panthers.

Dark ghosts that cross the road

in front of a car, a camp,

scream in the woods behind you.

 

We none of us ever feel the danger

that passes within a few yards:

bear, lynx, coyote, poacher.

What’s drawing a bead on your back,

or staring down at the top of your head.


Source:  McLeod, Margaret.  "No Wolves, I tell you."  The Fiddlehead, no. 193, autumn 1997.

Photo credit to Christopher Bruno via FreeImages.com: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/coyote-up-close-1475614