Like the Wolf

Deployment Day 220

Most days are rice and radish,
the roiling of bones in a slick broth.
They are matchsticked carrot,
picked cilantro, the clean
blade of new onion.

Those days are lamb,
and piglet, the sleeping 
nose of spring suckling 
in new green. They are days 
when I fall asleep 
warm in our bed,
as the season thunders
softly to itself.

Others are nothing
but hunger, and the world 
becomes a tufted ear, 
a sprouted fang,
a desire to devour
children, grandmothers,
a huntsman whole.

Without the bone, there is no
soup. Without the soup,
only the gnaw of you
one ocean, another continent
away, and not answering
the phone. It is the held
breath, the way I must not
huff it out, instead howl
solemnly in the empty

night. When the skin comes
crawling off me—in a dark
bar, on a back porch,
tucked deep in white down—
I don't know how to fill
what teethes inside.
To be made of something
as cold as stone.
It's okay. I'm beginning
to learn that what I cannot 
blow down
will still burn.

Copyright © 2019 by Erin Elizabeth Smith. This poem appeared in Tupelo Quarterly V19Used with permission of the author.