Robert Wrigley Click to

Robert Wrigley’s books include Earthly Meditations (Penguin, 2006) Beautiful Country (Penguin, 2010) and Anatomy of Melancholy and Other Poems, forthcoming from Penguin in the spring of 2013. His awards include a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and the Kingsley Tufts Award. He teaches in the MFA program at the University of Idaho.  “Prey” was first published in Shenandoah 46/3.

We’re walking through stubble and rain-
hammered grasses, the dog and I. It’s almost dawn,
almost December, the western ridge is lipped
with snow and already catches early sun.
The canyon still deepens to the river’s black sheen.
Another rooster pheasant comes up,
A gray, receding dot going down. From the place
She’d trailed it to, the dog looks back.
There’s a wraith of ground fog between us
but it’s plain she’s puzzled, put out.
“Out of season, girl,” I shrug, “No gun.”

Such is the curse of the single-minded. She’d
hound a bird broken-winged but still running
for half a mile through burdock and bramble,
into thickets of poison ivy, over roads
and fence rows, only to bring it back alive
enough to kick at my pale hand
headed for its neck. And my daughter,
who will not eat meat and loves the dog beyond all reason
cannot accept my answer
when she asks, “If we were starving,
would you kill Violet for food?”

Imagine night come down. It is winter, far
From any city or town. I stroke my daughter’s back,
The dog sleeps alongside her bed. There is a god,
I think, and the bird that rises is His bauble,
And the dog duly and daily serves Him,
As we make our way from dark to dark,
His meat, as the sun that rises is His fire.