It is that gentle persuasion of dread.
The gnawing in the pit of one’s gut
that things will go awry.
It can scream at us, fighting for its own survival.
It is the lead wolf snarling and licking its chops.
It travels far and near. It cannot rest.
It watches and waits.
It is tone-deaf to reason.
It flies in the face of all logic
to find a home in our sinew and senses.
It traces its bony fingers through the hair
of our memories and our future.
It is our mate on ventures into the unknown.
It lies to us, caresses us, tells us we are weak.
It convinces us that someone else
must complete the journey.
Fear resides on the hardscrabble shores of our life.
It licks like fire at the soft wooden resin of our
ambitions, hopes, and dreams.
It will cripple as it attempts,
in its wayward way, to mend.
It is both ghastly and ghostly.
It is a gifted Lippizaner cantering
in rhyme with the music.
Its mighty flanks will crush us
against the boards of our desires.
We must float lightly.
We must gather in its message,
bend to its hopes,
Watch over the mystery.
Embrace the deeper melodies
of our hearts.
We must not falter.
We must enjoin and tell ourselves
and the world
we will not drift
That wolf snarling must be subdued,
not with a club but with firm assurance.
We are yet still masters.
We must stand over it,
hear its guttural warnings,
feel the cool ruff of its neck
as fur clasps in our hands.
We must stare it in the eye
and say, “Not today.”
Tomorrow may be yet another opportunity,
Another opening when our backs are turned.
But right now, in this encounter,
we must be the alpha,
the lead dog, the one
in front on the traces!
Sniffing out home,
The rest of our pack-dogs will follow.
Beneath the soft light of the moon,
the harshness of the cold,
the bitterness of the day,
we are the ones that must
bring order to a vast land.
A wilderness of our own making.
John Bragstad is the author of two books: Compass Season and The Poetry of Life: Who's Watching Who? Both are available at Amazon and in local Grand Marais book stores.
Special thanks to Pixabay for the photos.