The wolf within

The wolf within

I chose to keep it
inside from the second
he listed reasons for leaving
the five of us.

When I first heard the story
of one small Spartan boy,
silent even though
it killed him,
I took it up
and carried it in me.

That boy did the same
with a wolf pup
perched on a cliff side
outside the city wall.
Clouds formed as he panted
and ran fast to fight the curfew.

But time caught up
with the boy. He stood,
silent, berated for coming in
past due, his face a stone,

then collapsed, his pulse
flat. The wolf, famished,
had torn him to pieces
within his woolen coat.

But when you unbuttoned
the round buttons
on my small brown coat,

and the stars held
their breath for us,

the wolf I’d kept
hidden for thirty years

quietly crept down

and ran free.

–Bethany Klonowski

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