Only Out of Love

for Akira

I taste a strangers blood young

but its only out of love.

No-Fang, nose-mute and night wandering,

who else to guard your throat

but me?

They take me from the field

and a proud woman I have forgotten 

but knew as my mother.

Chains and grass and my mother’s teeth

no longer in my scruff,

but hands, clawless and soft

as if made, not to beat against the dirt,

but to smooth my coat to cloud

Now in their block world, soft world,

a two-tone boy bites my ear

and claws the black of my eye blue.

The world is scar-fogged but I can feel

many new hands through my fur,

warm like they caught

the meadow sun in their skin.

Stray, they say.

And then a name

and more names

for everything

I didn’t need to know before.

Because they need

so many things from me.

But there are ropes and bones and rubber,

hard crunch plentiful and everything

teeth could want.

They take me to places I know, too:

river and mountain and snowy glade,

where I teach you

what pack means.

A fang to shield,

a bark to caution.

A wrong bite

beaten from my muzzle

(but is maybe one bite

less for you).

I know ‘no’ but you 

don’t know them.

Listen, No-Fang:

I’m wild-blooded, red-clawed,

but I learned how to lay next to you,

to forgo food

when you starved,

a warm heap

at your cold feet.

Now that my bones

are chewed by time,

I’m just like you.

Slow with no bite.

A broken bark and the world

behind a veil of milk.

Oh, is that your hand?

Yes. Clawless and full of sun,

I know those hands

even in the dark.