The last wolf hurried toward me
through the ruined city
and I heard his baying echoes
down the steep smashed warrens
of Montgomery Street and past
the ruby-crowned highrises
left standing
their lighted elevators useless

Passing the flicking red and green
of traffic signals
baying his way eastward
in the mystery of his wild loping gait
closer the sounds in the deadly night
through clutter and rubble of quiet blocks
I hear his voice ascending the hill
and at last his low whine as he came
floor by empty floor to the room
where I sat
in my narrow bed looking west, waiting
I heard him snuffle at the door and
I watched

He trotted across the floor
he laid his long gray muzzle
on the spare white spread
and his eyes burned yellow
his small dotted eyebrows quivered

Yes, I said.
I know what they have done.

—Mary TallMountain

Rights & Access

From Light on a Tent Wall, 1990
University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Copyright 1990 by Mary TallMountain.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of University of California from Light on a Tent Wall, 1990. Copyright 1990 by Mary TallMountain. For further permissions information, contact University of California, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 3220 Campbell Hall, Box 951548, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1548.

  • Mary TallMountain

    Mary TallMountain (1918-1994), a Native Alaskan writer and elder who lived for many years in San Francisco, published three poetry collections, including Listen to the Night (Freedom Voices, published posthumously in 1995).