Natural History – Chloe Martinez

They’ve been dead for decades, since long before I was born.

My mother saw them on school trips: two white wolves


caught mid-leap, suspended in eternal blue twilight,

endless arctic summer. I stand just where I can see


the darkness inside their panting mouths, the empty air

between their front feet and the unbroken crust


of snow—they haven’t landed on it yet, though they throw

their shadows ahead of them. It’s almost inevitable


that the tail of the left one will graze that

low-hanging branch, and a few wet clumps of snow will


shower down as they pass. The painted Northern Lights,

the flat horizon-line they run to. I am eight, watching them,


and nineteen, and forty: the silent velocity of their feet,

of my heartbeat in the dark, the pockmark


panic of rabbit tracks before them in snow.

Chloe Martinez

Chloe Martinez’s poetry has appeared in The Collagist, Waxwing, The American Journal of Poetry and elsewhere, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A graduate of Boston University’s Creative Writing MA and the MFA for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she lives in Claremont, CA, where she teaches on South Asian religions at Claremont McKenna College. See more of her work at

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