(from Negro Mountain)
Wolves came up the driveway and through the side yard of the old house—this
was in kindergarten time—and I stood still though I was frightened
to be in their midst and they took note of me but did
not bite or threaten me. The light was light I had known—by then—
having seen it in the hour before a thunderstorm: dull, bitter light, and everywhere
without apparent source. The wolves had ragged gray pelts—bad fur, tufts
of it—and their hindquarters were skinny in comparison to their very big shoulders.
They’d come in apparently from the street, Liscum Drive, and onto the property
was nearly an acre and had once been a farmstead), and they parted around where
I was standing. It was almost literally a wave of them, those wolves, as
though they’d come up the hill from West Third Street or somehow got through
the chain-link fence of the V.A. cemetery that traced the hill
on Liscum Drive.
A white friend wrote to me, the human figure passes through the
pack unharmed. And she said that she saw the dream as being not about
the wolves as much as passing through adversity, this exchange
decades after the dream itself, which had been a thing of moment—visual,
tinctured with obvious anxiety—and current in my memory for that time before the
and I met.
Make no mistake, dear and articulate friends, I knew it
was an unstable moment. My thumbs
were different, I’d seen, from one
another. Beyond the driveway had been pear and walnut trees.
One passes through a wood, or a track does.
A dull feeling overtakes you in the field.
There had been a gate at the driveway but only
the posts remained, grown through by the hedges that stopped on either side
of the entrance from the street. What do hills
summarize? Origin stories? Right
and left separated long before this. Bait me, love
—I can pass until I speak.
"First Dream" reprinted with permission from C. S. Giscombe. Copyright ©2018. Originally published in Poem-a-Day, August 14, 2018 by the Academy of American Poets, producer of Poets.org. https://poets.org/poem/first-dream