Saturday, September 09, 2006

What Wolf Cubs Need

I have recently re- connected with a long lost niece who is a grown woman now and the mother of an eleven year old girl. Knowing she is an artist, like her mother, I had asked her in an email if she had a site where i could look at her work. She doesn't, but she told me that she, too, is a writer, and has posted many of her poems on the internet. This is the note I wrote back to her, along with a poem I wrote in 1993--"What Wolf Cubs Need".

thanks for the note, in the midst of all your busyness.

you're lucky. one day more and i would have PHONED you! (hey, not such a bad idea, really... maybe in a couple of weeks when the Hubby-Momma has passed through town.)

i'm thrilled that you are a writer, too! i love writing much much much. if you have a science fiction bookstore anywhere around you can find a couple of my stories at the moment--one is in an anthology called Tesseracts 9, that came out last summer, and the other is in the current issue of On Spec: the Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic.

i will dig into your poems on your poetry site. very cool that you are doing that. i guess i will have to board a plane and track you down if i want to see your drawings ever. later, later...

meanwhile, i'm glad you enjoyed my haiti notes, and that your daughter did. i look forward to talking with her about her dreams someday. they sound great. have you ever heard of the american poet, langston hughes? he wrote great verses with bright nuggets of truth in them. i always remember this one:

hold fast to dreams
for if dreams die
life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly

hold fast to dreams
for if dreams go
life is a barren field
covered in snow

i've hung onto that even when dreaming seemed fruitless. now that i have one of my oldest dreams back--writing--life is filled with many delicious fruits, indeed!

here's another one that he wrote. it also encourages the dreamer, but not only to dream, to act!

But someday, somebody'll
stand up and talk about me
and write about me
black and beautiful
and sing about me
and put on plays about me!
I reckon it'll be
me myself!
Yes, it'll be me.

i'm thinking of going back to australia, myself. i was there in 1985--about five minutes ago, by my watch--and stayed for five months. what a beautiful place! being your mother's daughter, i suspect you have a deep love for the outdoors, and there are so many amazing places and so many amazing plants and animals there--you and your daughter would not be disappointed.

it's funny. it strikes me when i say that about you and your mom, and knowing how true it is of me and several other of my did we get that way? so in love with beauty and wildness, so sensitive toward animals and plants and the environment.

it isn't true of everyone, or even of most people, and it isn't as though our folks made a big point of it. so how did we get so lucky? it must have been there in the home environment somehow--oh, i know what it was, partly, anyway. even though the folks weren't BIG-time into it themselves, they didn't get in the way of our loving the natural world--animals, for instance.

lots of people grow up with one or two pets over a lifetime if they're lucky, and they're kept outside or in little cages and never get to be part of the family. i think that often those people grow up without really falling in love with their animals (and it is a small jump from falling in love with animals to falling in love with their natural homes). i remember a time when we had ten people, four bedrooms, a dog, three cats, three rabbits, two guinea pigs and a budgie. in the city! (i was only supposed to get one guinea pig, but when i told them the lady said it would be lonely on its own, they grudgingly accepted it...but gave it to my younger sister.)

and of course, mom and dad were just as amused by the critters as we were, even if they didn't have quite the same feelings about them or the same approach to their care. (like, say, they actually thought we should feed them and clean their cages. weirdoes!)

in fact, in her extreme dotage, say when she was around forty, mom turned into a pretty big animal-lover herself, adopting all the stray cats and feeding squirrels and raccoons and generally making a nuisance of herself in the neighbourhood. so i guess the germ of that was always there, and we picked it up.

then there were all those nature shows on tv. nowadays there are endless superhero cartoons and so on but back then there was much less of interest to kids on tv, and the wildlife stuff was the best. the antelopes ran, and i ran with them. the wolves howled, and i cried, too. the lions tore apart their prey, and one piece of me was munching while the other piece was being torn apart. (brrrghghgh.) even the close-ups of water dripping from a leaf, or mists in the northern woods were incredibly stirring. what a blessing! even though we never camped or stayed in cabins in the woods or any of that, we were steeped in the wonder of the Great Outdoors.

anyway, my dear, i am rattling on when you should be ramming down walls, so i will let you go.

one day, i'll send you one of my old poems. (i mostly write stories now.) ah, heck, i'll give you one now.

much love,

what wolf cubs need

brown and curled and wet with mother's dew
each cub slides into this world
cleaned tongued nuzzled
until the mewling starts
until the new wolf waves her helpless nailed paws
into the air
against her mother's cheek
until the sealed eyes and questing mouth
find their way to her white-filled source
every cub needs her mother
her brothers and sisters, too
to lean against in slumber
tumble over
tweak in play
to run with
growing smart gleeful strong
each cub needs her father
warm against the night
gambolling when mother's gone to hunt
stretched out calm and watchful
running quick and eager
barking against those who'd pull her down

those cubs who have them are the lucky ones
cubs with "aunts" and "uncles"
who wrestle long with them
who sleep with eat with
bring treats to them
you are my uncle wolf
caring when you need not care
bringing me the long red leg of a fallen deer
to chew and fight and chew
you are my brother wolf
wrestling playing
barely conscious of the cougar on the hill
you are my comrade wolf
and i walk with you contented
safe as i can be
on this long expanse
of snow

copyright C. June Wolf
3 June 1993