“Much more genius is needed to make love than to command armies.”
Ninon de L’Enclos
Daciana looked up at the faded picture of her first grown male wolf with her pen tapping her lips to an old song of love and loss. She loved that big brute. She had trained him from a pup given her by the old master. During that time, he taught her the duties of the wolfkeeper and the dark arts of passion and lust.
She could feel the knots of rope digging into her flesh along the meridians of nerves that set her skin afire. She touched the leather choker with silk lining on her neck and remembered how her master had made the wolf badge of silver melted from his rings. He made it in the image of her wolf.
A tear fell to the journal as she recalled in vivid detail the night he gave it to her. She believed in her heart it was the night he whelped their daughter from her zealous womb. Daciana glanced over at her sleeping daughter. Dari was fourteen now, too young to learn all the secrets of a man’s heart and too young to discover her own heart. In time she will learn both.
Daciana knew her time was finished. Her master had died long ago, and no man had visited her since. They feared her wolves and the rumors of what she could do with rope and chain. What I can do is take the beast from a man and give him nourishment for his soul. I can liberate him from hate by making all of his pain go away and keep it for myself. It’s their hate of each other that burns the world to the ground in every generation. It’s their defeat they cannot live with, and so they kill the things they love. They kill their women with fists, knives, guns, silence, and words. I take that away from them.
The wolfkeeper looked down at the page. She wanted to leave her last words for her daughter. Daciana thought how she had only shown her the softest part of being a woman; how to care for the burdened, how to be compassionate, and empathetic. She would be a wolfkeeper too but instead of an addiction to the pain a man can give, she wanted her to be a caretaker of their soul. Dari would learn about love by giving love and feeling it returned to her in a thousand ways.
Satisfied, she inked a secret message and placed the journal on the table for Dari to find. In the old chest in her closet, Daciana took out a measure of rope and wrapped it around her waist. She pulled on her boots, threw on her hooded wool jacket, slipped across the castle grounds, and into the dark forest.
In that state between sleep and wake
traversing birth and mortality
there is the faintest hint of earthy candles,
macabre dreams interrupted by sighs
the soft strophe of sonnets and the odd
sensation of strung pearls falling like
tiny moons through my open palm.
At the boundaries I find you
not your spirit or rose tinged snow,
but flesh and bone and sinew.
Now I am sleeping less
roused by the wing beats of boreal Owls
circling ancient Cypress,
their knife edge talons entwining knotty branches.
When sleep intrudes fitful winds erupt
feathery curtains, vibrate my hemispheres.
A swift breeze lifts me over the
valley to a moonlit hillside of sweet lea
where a silver wolf lies down beside me.
He is the scent of golden meadows and
his eyes are the color of the eastern sky.
A poem Gifted by Holly Rene Hunter - House of Heart 2019