Meanwhile, the Wolves

The Book of Numbers commands us: Cry out
before God in times of catastrophe.

The whale’s children begin by whispering
until they’ve learned their lung songs and whistles

by heart. Imagine a splinter’s voice chatting
to the burnt-black needle, your hands like little

saints. Whoever chased the exiles from the gate
became the diaspora’s first disciple.

God repeated a rumor and all our faith
came bucketing from our mouths. Every forest

is the enemy of every other
forest, their battles boiling too slowly

for anyone to notice, like thunder
mumbling at first, fleshing out details

of the storm’s trajectory before choosing
a vocabulary for the whole story.

BECKA MARA MCKAY is a poet and translator. She directs the Creative Writing MFA at Florida Atlantic University, where she serves as faculty advisor to Swamp Ape Review. Recent work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Copper Nickel, Muzzle, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and Post Road. Her newest book of poems, The Little Book of No Consolation, is forthcoming from Barrow Street Press in spring 2021.