(for Katie)
Sandra Irwin

The wolf is slow, patient,

his jaw slack, his tongue pink.

Saliva runs.

He eyes his prey—

not the wild-eyed lamb

you might suppose—

instead my daughter

spread-eagled in the ICU,

intubated and dialysis ported,

life coming to her in plastic

drips and machinated burps.

They lower the sedation, she

opens her eyes. Helpless, frightened

and in pain, she remains on guard,

defiant, brave. Like the lamb

caught in the ditch, she knows

the wolf is nigh.

I believe in sacrificial

slaughter. Were metaphors

but real, Id sport a crossbow,

and quarrels, wield a hunting

knife, sacrifice that wolf,

slash his hoary throat

ear to blustering ear,

stake his crimson, leaking carcass

high over an inverted cross,

grandly, violently

and oh, so profanely


Sandra Irwin holds an A.B. in English from Vassar College, a J.D. from the University of San Diego, and a Masters of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, The Summerset Review, Sleet Magazine, Shot Glass Journal, Foliate Oak Literary Journal, and other literary publications.

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