the withered backcountry.Where grim fogs graze hills and gray mists hauntthe hollows that hug our forsaken highways,it lurches through thickets, downs leaves, downs limbs.It strips the bronze stalks of the harvest, it stealsthe firstling of the flock to gladden its feeding.In a ditch by our fence they found Doc’s daughter.The balefires burn. Others are butchered.Groped by our grief, in the grizzled airwe have shrieked lamentations, longing for a lawto punish the predator and make firm a peace.All the high councils have condemned the creature,and still it stands astride the countrycruel as winter, the cold’s own kinsman.The nightly news repeats its nothing;our Facebook friends cry wolf, unfollow us.It shakes its iron shackles in the shadows,it rattles its wrench over the roof gables,in the darkness outside our doors, it dances,and will not wander from the farms it has wasted,the monstrous changeling, unchosen, our child.
Copyright © 2018 by Ryan Wilson
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Ryan Wilson is the editor of Literary Matters and the author of The Stranger World (Measure Press, 2017), winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review, First Things, Five Points, the Hopkins Review, New Criterion, Yale Review, and Best American Poetry. He teaches at the Catholic University of America.
Founded in 1892 by the teacher and critic William Peterfield Trent, the Sewanee Review is the longest-running literary quarterly in America. The SR has published many of the twentieth century’s great writers, including T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Wallace Stevens, Saul Bellow, Katherine Anne Porter, Marianne Moore, Seamus Heaney, Hannah Arendt, and Ezra Pound. The Review has a long tradition of cultivating emerging talent, from excerpts of Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O’Connor’s first novels to the early poetry of Robert Penn Warren, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Christian Wiman. “Whatever the new literature turns out to be,” wrote editor Allen Tate in 1944, “ it will be the privilege of the Sewanee Review to print its share of it, to comment on it, and to try to understand it.” The mission remains unchanged.