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Writing you this, I can feel a dewclaw
pushing through the skin an inch above my thumb.
I'll sign this letter with a muddy paw.

Since you've been gone
I've grown a little wilder every day,
like a dog on one of those abandoned farms
out in the scrub-pine country between the rivers.

I'm living in just one room of the house,
I've turned it into a lair.
I wake there by the bones of my last meal.
I'm eating rare steaks, loving the taste of blood.
Yesterday, grabbling in the creek,
I caught six red horse with my hands
and ate them for supper.

Late in the afternoon I sit out back
and watch the woods creep closer to the house.
Rabbits come up into the grass. They watch
me warily, know I can't be trusted.
Tomorrow or the next day I may pounce
and bolt one squealing, beating heart and all,
snapping his bones between my teeth.

I walk in the woods at night and strange scents
curling from folds of wind
stir whines and whimperings in my throat.

If you don't come home soon
I know I'll range farther and farther off
into my woodsy dreams.
When you do return, you'll find the grass
knee-high around the house, the doors all open,
chewed bits of fur and feathers in the bedroom,
bones buried in your bedroom slippers.
I will have taken up
with some skinny, yellow-eyed bitch from the woods.

By late summer, lovers parked by cattle bars
will swear they saw me running with wild dogs
that drag down sheep and cattle between the rivers.

from Nostalgia for 70, 1986 ©

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