Kim Nelson: Winter Has Her Claws Out

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When winter settles in,

Wild things wake up.

Cars on the street,

Buried under soft white mounds,

Become polar bears,

Their rounded backs steadfast against arctic winds.

Stark bare branches, slender and brown,

Do not belong to leafless trees

But to a herd of caribou crossing the plain.

The ice is cracked and broken across the sidewalk

Because narwhals thrust their ivory tusks

Through the surface,

Traversing the granite streams

Seeking Greenland halibut.

And your neighbor’s dog,

Yapping in the steamy window,

Is not looking at the mailman

But at the pack of white wolves,

Invisible behind spinning snowdrifts,

Howling at the winter moon.

Their primal growls and white claws

Scaring away the hazy street lamps

For a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Watching from the window

The captive dog knows that

In a deep, dormant place,

He used to be a wolf once.

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