Published on Academy of American Poets (

If You’re Going to Look Like a Wolf They Have to Love You More Than They Fear You.

The first deer had large teeth and no horns and
were not afraid.

The first deer did not have enough fear
for the men who needed them
to survive.

A woman decided to let the men eat
a grandmother decided her deer shall have horns
and be afraid
someone’s mother decided the men shall eat
and shall be feared.


A man thought wolves should be used
to cull the herd.

And we who had been catching water
dripping through stone
in the homes we dug
out of the earth
we licked our long teeth clean
            and set to work.




Copyright © 2019 by Abigail Chabitnoy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem early into a month-long residency at Caldera in Oregon. I’d been reading a mix of news, feminist texts, Alutiiq lore, and Barry Lopez’s Of Wolves & Men, and was trying to find a way to bring these varied ways of knowing into conversation with each other and with the current social, political, and environmental crises dominating my newsfeeds. I wanted to capture the direness of the situation we’re in and the need for new solutions rooted in traditional knowledge and marginalized voices, but it was also important for me that the poem maintain an air of defiance, of hope—of resilience. I want my poems to envision a path forward, not sink in overwhelming defeatism.”
Abigail Chabitnoy


Abigail Chabitnoy

Abigail Chabitnoy is the author of In the Current Where Drowning is Beautiful (Wesleyan University Press, 2022) and How to Dress a Fish (Wesleyan University Press, 2019). She is a research associate for a consulting company focused on supporting tribal self-determination efforts and currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

Date Published: 2019-11-04

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