Ode to the Extinct Japanese Wolf

Jean Gerard / Los Osos CA


The wolf that is not there, howls still
and on the barren slopes dusted with snow
he stands, nose windward, tasting the chill
air and wondering where to go.

now that his wilderness is shorn of trees.
Where once he chased deer, squirrels and wild hogs
he hears the busy saw-whine in the breeze
and sees huge piles of logs.

In hungry rage he runs to temple ground
to find a mate and sheltered place to breed,
yet even there his traces will be found
and he be driven out, his end decreed.

by farmers' traps or poison or a gun.
When all have joined the spirit world but one
then he alone must roam the shadows on the hill
and hide behind a reed and howl still,

and farmers wake to listen to his cry
and dream in sleep they see his yellow eye.