He works the foreleg toward his back teeth,
making no sound, resting now and then,
mouth bloody. He will free himself
one way or another, leave behind
either the limb or his body
lying limp on reddened leaves
as his ghost slinks into the trees,
howls a soundless grief.
On my tongue, more bitter
than the copper taste of blood:
shame for my tribe, its nimble hands
that carry steel jaws into the forest,
its furless bodies and pale, shallow throats
unsuited to praise the moon.
Its eagerness to stain a darker red
this hillside bright with crimson trees
Ricki Mandeville is a cofounder and consulting editor of Moon Tide Press. Her poems have appeared in Comstock Review, Spot Lit, San Pedro River Review, The Smoking Poet, The Raintown Review and other journals. She lives near the ocean in Huntington Beach, California and is the author of A Thin Strand of Lights (Moon Tide Press).