The black wood behind her, she heard the hounds again.
Wind-whipped, running down pine-clad slopes,
Feathered with plumes of grass and smoke,
She ran, on and on, till spent.
It would not be long before the hunt caught her scent once more.
She came to a river. The rocks formed an arch dark on the water,
Brilliant sunlight blinding pursuer to the truth.
She jumped into the deep, deep pool.
How she had longed for the chance to swim in the cold waters,
never before allowing herself – a mother – the freedom to jump.
Breaking the surface she swam to a rocky ledge.
By broken light, on moving water, concealed.
She, a living fragment of the one true wilderness.
Shallow-breathing. Ears strained for the treacherous sound of her own breath.
Eyes – fathoms deep in age – caught sight of a rowan tree, on the bank
of the rushing, tumbling river.
Rowan, and river, together sheltering her.
Beneath, in a patch of sunlight,
A butterfly – a shifting, travelling shape that moved at the edge of things.
Beautiful, essential, fragile.
She wanted to play with it, as she had in the past.
The thought filled her with energy and she emerged, soundless as a butterfly,
evading even eagle eyes. Catching the scent of the open moor ahead,
She lifted her nose to catch the wind.
Westward she ran, in and out of the moving shadow.
She but one of those shadows.
They may say that the Last Caledonian Wolf is dead,
But the truth is she is not yet born.
Directly inspired by (and often using the actual words of) Jim Crumley in The Last Wolf.
Also by the writing of Gavin Maxwell’s Ring Of Bright Water, and of Kathleen Raine’s The Lion’s Mouth.