I love it when an author I’m reading seeds their story with references to other writers who I haven’t read. I always seek them out as if was following a treasure map found in a secret drawer of a long unopened desk.
Today, I was reading ‘Hollow Beasts’ by Alisa Lynn Valdés and settling happily into the first book of a new series about Jodi Luna, a rookie New Mexico Game Warden who used to be a poetry professor, when she asked a character who she’s just met and who has declared his love for the written word, what his favourite poet is. He picks Mary TallMountain and says his favourite piece of hers is ‘The Last Wolf’ which he describes, rather succinctly, as ‘Helluva poem’.
I don’t know what happens next yet because I left New Mexico to go find Mary TallMountain and read ‘The Last Wolf’.
It is indeed a helluva poem.
‘The Last Wolf’ by Mary TallMountain
The last wolf hurried toward me through the ruined city and I heard his baying echoes down the steep smashed warrens of Montgomery Street and past the few ruby-crowned highrises left standing their lighted elevators useless Passing the flicking red and green of traffic signals baying his way eastward in the mystery of his wild loping gait closer the sounds in the deadly night through clutter and rubble of quiet blocks I heard his voice ascending the hill and at last his low whine as he came floor by empty floor to the room where I sat in my narrow bed looking west, waiting I heard him snuffle at the door and I watched He trotted across the floor he laid his long gray muzzle on the spare white spread and his eyes burned yellow his small dotted eyebrows quivered Yes, I said. I know what they have done.
I loved this as soon as I read it. I don’t know what it means yet but its power calls to me, like a song that captures my imagination before I take in the lyrics.
I love the image of the last wolf in what seems to be post-apocalyptic San Francisco, hurrying through the destruction towards the woman waiting for him.
What does it mean? I don’t know yet. It will be fun working that out and seeing how that changes for me over time.
I do know that I found a new poet and a helluva poem and I wanted to share them both.