Lupus Aquarius

By Katie Cappello

I try to tell her she can’t see a white wolf in the snow until it attacks. She is too sick to listen. Last spring, I say, a girl sat in the hot tub drunk on mescal and pomegranate. The wolf ran through the back yard, grass sticking to fur. I pressed my forehead against the cool of the sliding glass door, watched as it paced a wide circle. The big dipper poured into her mouth. Even now, in this cabin, when I close my eyes, I can see the yellow necklace of teeth swimming in red pulp.

*

She doesn’t care. We haven’t seen the wolf in ten days. She thinks it’s safe, thinks she can get to the snowplow, then to town. As the door shuts, snow is pushed inside, picked up by some invisible tongue to lick my hand, a soft constellation I will later name Lupus Aquarius. But now I can only watch through the window.

*

Her pace is slow, her feet already soaked. I can see the red pelvis of the snowplow just over the rise, can count the number of steps left: twelve. She is five away when the snow shoots sideways, suddenly clawed, hungry. I am pressed again to the window, my fingers in the fur of old logs, teeth grinding, as the wolf’s terrible hinge opens, descends to her neck. The fluorescence of broken tendons sparks in the freeze, the heartline, raw muscle, exposed. The doorknob, a cold paw between my thighs. How bright the red snow. How dark and close the cabin.

_________

Katie Cappello lives and works in a small town in Northern California. Her poems are forthcoming from Crab Orchard Review, Los Angeles Review, Memoir(and), and Slipstream. She is the author of the poetry collection Perpetual Care as well as a chapbook entitled A Classic Game of Murder forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press.


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