There’s a wolf looking in through the edge
of the the door frame, fixated on the cradle,
by the far wall of the room. The mother breaks
the mop she’s using with her foot, and turns
the handle into a spear of simple splinters.
They stare each other down until the sun sets,
and the wolf just slinks away back to the night
where something else will draw its eye and then
obtain its bite.

The traffic lights blink red when all the streets
are dead and the girls all give head, to the boys
they’ve been texting, out behind the southern
strip of stores. They go together to split the fear
between the four of them. When that segment
of the party ends they pass around the grass
picked by Alaina in her mother’s secret garden.

Years later she would be at her mother’s bedside
feeling awful that her stress wasn’t about her.
Then the dying woman would recount the time
when Alaina was a baby and she saved her
from a wolf with just a mop.

As a thank you without much
else left to say the daughter would admit
to stealing drugs meant for the purposes
of dulling all the pain of this disease.
So she took her to the roof so she could feel
the breeze but the moment didn’t last long
and that glimpse of cloudy sky became
an echo of a howl far in the past.

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