Meeting the Dire Wolf – Dana Sonnenschein

Not just heavy bones.
The huge skull fleshed,
broad across the brow
and muzzle, 3” canines,
thick neck and body —
the wolf of your nightmares
and not just one.  Thirty.
A pack drawn to the scent
and screaming of horses.

Rushing through dry grass
and tarry wind, the wolves
splash into a black pool.
They tear at throats
until there’s no sound
but chewing and bubbles
popping slowly in asphalt.
When their bellies are full,
they’re caught. They struggle.

But their bones sink.
3,600 dire wolf skeletons
at La Brea.  Where you pose
before a wall of skulls,
wondering how they could
pitch in, one after another,
as if the stink of methane
and rot wasn’t a warning.
Whether you turn around

or not, the past’s catching up.
The way we went for
easy prey, short-sighted,
sure fossils were fuel,
ignoring smoke, then fires.
Summers burn hotter now,
and still we lumber
headlong toward the pit,
hungry for more and better.

Dana SonnenscheinDana Sonnenschein teaches at Southern Connecticut State University. Her publications include books of poetry and prose poems (Bear Country, Natural Forms, No Angels but These, and Corvus). Recent work has appeared in Memory House, The Ekphrastic Review, Permafrost, Feminist Studies, Poppy Road Review, and’s Dear America anthology.