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Wolf Territory

We sit on the couch and the wolves are outside.
Someone plays a drum next door. Wolves.
They bang their wolf drumsticks on the greasy drum pad
and wake up the neighborhood.
You pretend to hold my hand.
I hold your elbow. When we are seventy
who will hold us up? I will grab you under your wolf
arms, feed you the warm soup. The wolves
in the backyard on their red scooters
scratch up the grass. Enough already.
We invite them inside, see if they can help us
with all those lost spaces we try to recapture in our innocence
between the winter trees.
The lord is the absence of innocence.
The marriage vow is a catchy tune that no one gets tired of,
then it goes away into the basement of old records that can't be
The wolves are downstairs with turntables and old speakers
trying to connect the red wires to the stereo,
the black wires to the triangle of the moon.
They howl at it.
We howl at it,
from the couch, from the rug,
where I dreamed I touched your breast.
One day I will touch your breast.
Maybe the children will be grownups.
Maybe they will be seventeen. When I was seventeen
I was a wolf.
Then I lost my wolf ways.
I left my pack and no longer
marked my earth.
So I got married
to get my wolf ways back, mate for life, duck and cover.
The drums don't stop,
the wolves crash through the front door,
some with black and white fur,
some with hot, red tongues.

Matthew Lippman

American Chew
Burnside Review Books

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