Wolf’s Clothing

audio: Wolf’s Clothing
audio of John Beaton's poem, Wolf’s Clothing

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John Beaton

Wolf’s Clothing


      He’s trained a golden eagle
      to figurehead his glove,
      a harbinger of havoc
      perched on the world’s roof.

      He leashes it with leather
      and rides across the steppes,
      arm raised, its wings extended,
      until they reach the wolves.

      He pulls the thong, releases
      the raptor from his wrist;
      it beats its wings and sailplanes
      and, though the prey is fast,

      the bird with ease outpaces
      one loping carnivore
      and sinks a grapnel talon
      around its snout and jaw.

      They crash-land—writhing, thrashing;
      the wolf is stronger, but
      its claw-encaged carnassials
      and canines cannot snap.

      The eagle’s ripping beak-hook
      tears at its face and eyes
      as, panic-struck and scrabbling,
      the hapless canid twists.

      It ends as the berkutchi
      leaps from his braking horse
      and, stabbing with his katyr,
      adds to his stock of furs.

      The snow is churned and bloody
      as off the hunter rides
      a splash of savage beauty
      in his Kazakh furs and hides.

Able Muse Write Prize for Poetry, 2020 ▪ Finalist