My Wolverine


by Pascale Petit

When my mother says I was her kit
taken from her too early,
I think not of cats but a wolverine,
my devourer of snowfields, who,
when she can find no more prey,
eats herself, even the frozen bones.
I crawl down the black phone line
as if it’s an umbilicus
to the last refuge on our planet,
towards whatever back country
happens to be her territory today.
My nails remember to claw.
I lope up the icefall
she’s retreated to, that’s melting behind her
as she climbs her precipice, too drunk
on freedom to come down.
She shows me the den where words are born
fighting. I do not blame her.
I hold the receiver against my face
as if it’s her muzzle, her reek
of blizzard-breath. I embrace
the backward-barbed teeth that can
fell a moose and gnaw even its hooves.
Kit – she spits the word out
in a half-love half-snarl and I
am her glutton, scavenging on my yelp
when I was torn from her after birth,
and again now – not long before she dies.

First published in Ploughshares (spring 2015) edited by Neil Astley. Poem from Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe, 2017)

About the Author:

Pascale Petit’s sixth collection Fauverie was shortlisted for the 2014 T. S. Eliot Prize and won the 2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. Her fifth collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo was shortlisted for both the T. S. Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year, and was a Book of the Year in The Observer. Pascale has had three collections chosen as Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement, The Independent and The Observer. She is the recipient of a Cholmondeley Award and is chair of the judging panel for the 2015 T. S. Eliot Prize.