On Wolf and Wildness


Picture a she-wolf. Green-eyed, and grey-toned. Her long, lean limbs smattered ombre with mud from the nights rain. Her coat keeps a cadence with the wind as she travels. She catches a scent and lifts her head, a moment of pause. The forest is still but for the birds in the treetops, calling out to one another. Her paws are tender on the earth. 

She is not aware you are watching.

The forest is her world. A land of greens and golds, tawny red and dappled light. At night she sees the moon at its zenith, reaching out past tall pine pyramids. She smells the storms coming a long way off. She tilts her head at twilight and offers in sound the deep place from which her life flows.  Her erie howls are not romantic to her, they are not strange, or rare, or something to awe or fear. Rather her song is simply hers to sing in the symphony of sounds that make her world; the scattering of mice, the hoot of an owl, the soft rustle of a doe at the river bank.

Everything, everything is alive.

The wolf has become an iconic symbol for wild women. Countless lost to ranching, farming, hunting and the wide-spread colonization of her habitat, she is a being in exile. All that she gifts the world trembles precariously on the edge of being and being-no-longer. Maybe its the way she reminds us of what is at stake… and of what has already been lost.

Or perhaps it is her forest habitat that stirs us so strongly. The dark wood of light and shadow, twisting with game trails and hidden footpaths. Here there are too many opportunities to take a wrong turn; and yet still some part of us is drawn like moths to the sweet smell of earth and rot. To the fecund embrace of dark. Maybe we each have wondered in secret longing-terror, is the forest where I belong?

But the terror itself is too-often enough to disavow the still small voice, and stay, however small, caught in the web of consumption and forgetfulness. It’s not your fault. The way we perceive ourselves as separate, and removed from the enchanted world of doe and wolf is a sickness that you inherited of which you are only now coming to understand both the cause and the cure.

The she-wolf turns and looks right at you. You recognize in that instant you share the same color eyes. Green, like the underside of Alder leaves, like the lake in the spring, like the dried and chipping paint off the shed in the yard. You lock in. Eons pass. You don’t breathe, fearing – all of sudden – for your life. You make a small sound that you weren’t aware of making. The moment passes. She moves into the shadows and you, to the light. You’re trembling now, doing your best to convince yourself out of what you saw there in those eyes…just a trick of the imagination, nothing more.

But the forest itself seems to lean toward you, utterly still. Waiting. Waiting? The trembling in your bones increases. You clasp your hands to keep them still. The world around you tilts and some small fissure in the veneer of your village self cracks under the pressure. Then the tears come and you know why you were afraid. This will change everything.

You let your wracked body be an oblation to what remains wild. As you fall a deep guttural sound begins low in your belly gaining in strength and tenor. Despite yourself it leaves your lips, a typhonic force of nature that might only be called love. The wind responds through the trees. You know what you saw. There is no denying it.

Everything, everything is alive.

Laura BlakemanComment