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Darren Bifford
"Wolf Hunter"
(earlier version)

I’ve got a seat up front beside the window
and I can see it like a dog or a shadow
of a dog sprint across the plateau, break
from its pack and go alone toward the tree line.
He’s the one we pick, little wolf—or is it a she?
She whose range roams these hundreds of miles
we fly all day over to take our shot. And what a shot.
To think he could catch caribou, out-run buffalo,
or corner a sprinting deer. But from up here
he seems so slow, as if the earth turns a little quicker
under him while he treadmills over and over
the same tiny track. We level now lower
and this old beat-up twin-propeller sounds like loose teeth
in a tin can. But it does its job. For wolf it must sound like nightmare,
if wolves have nightmares, or could say a few words about fear.
If only he knew this is really the least of our machines.
The bombers that first blew cities to memories, now relics,
were built before colour tvs. And that’s just our good old days.
I wonder whether he recalls his own good old days,
like yesterday, when the arctic was empty of us.
Well, give us a few minutes and we’ll be gone, out of range,
with one less wolf to cull for state stats…
Just remember to take a picture. I’ve paid not to miss:
Look. We’re closer, lower. His black snout
moistly shines. A wolf tongue is just a big dog
tongue lashed out the mouth. That hide will be a better coat.

I’m told now to take a shot. Fuel runs low
and we gotta be back before dark. So, little wolf, 
you might as well hold your full-throttle pace
across the scree: easier to aim. There’s a rivet here
on the window-ledge to gully the gun-barrel,
set its scope to your barn-wide belly, x-mark
your shaking heart. You’re almost dead before
I start, but there’s a moment you linger
a little more alive; time like a room we enter
together, a second or so before I pull the trigger.

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