Foothold

by Erin Elikins Radcliffe
I’m startled by blood on the sage,
the trap’s teeth on the wolf’s front leg—

the pink gristle and fur
he’s already chewed through.

He snarls when he sees me,
shows the jagged quartz line
of his teeth drawn together.

There is no matter of let go,

no trickster story or constellation
that ever was about a three-footed wolf.

I take a drag from my last, hidden quirly,
sit almost pillion to wrap my hands around his throat.

When’s it over, I’m covered in frost
and reeking of steel and sage.

I tan the wolf in his own brains,
sit stock-still and gristle-bound till morning.
Erin Elkins Radcliffe's poems have appeared in Smartish Pace, Hayden's Ferry Review,  and THRUSH and are forthcoming in Tupelo Quarterly, San Pedro River Review, and Coal Hill Review. She's the author of "Station of Rain" (Dancing Girl Press, 2013). Originally from Indiana, Erin lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her family.

© 2016, Erin Elikins Radcliffe