Like the Wolf by Erin Elizabeth Smith


Deployment Day 220

Most days are rice and radish,
the roiling of bones in a slick broth.
They are matchsticked carrot,
picked cilantro, the clean
blade of new onion.

Those days are lamb,
and piglet, the sleeping
nose of spring suckling
in new green. They are days
when I fall asleep
warm in our bed,
as the season thunders
softly to itself.

Others are nothing
but hunger, and the world
becomes a tufted ear,
a sprouted fang,
a desire to devour
children, grandmothers,
a huntsman whole.

Without the bone, there is no
soup. Without the soup,
only the gnaw of you
one ocean, another continent
away, and not answering
the phone. It is the held
breath, the way I must not
huff it out, instead howl
solemnly in the empty

night. When the skin comes
crawling off me—in a dark
bar, on a back porch,
tucked deep in white down—
I don’t know how to fill
what teethes inside.
To be made of something
as cold as stone.
It’s okay. I’m beginning
to learn that what I cannot
blow down
will still burn.
Erin Elizabeth Smith is the Creative Director at the Sundress Academy for the Arts and the Managing Editor of Sundress Publications and The Wardrobe. She is the author of two full-length collections, most recently The Naming of Strays from Gold Wake Press, and the editor of two anthologies. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Guernica, Ecotone, Mid-American, Crab Orchard Review, and Willow Springs, among others. She is a Distinguished Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Tennessee, and in 2017 she was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame.