Virginia Maria Romero’s devotional retablos feature a person with the footprint of a wolf on their throat in one, and a person with a wolf beside them in another. To me they speak of the connection with the land and the animals that we once had, but many have lost.
When I first discovered the retablos my mind linked to the word wolf. Although I soon discovered the animal was a coyote, I felt strongly about the wolf, and so I stayed true to my initial impression of the retablos and wrote Brother Wolf.
~ Laree Chapman
We were brothers together, fur and tooth
At home in the red desert sand.
We tracked the prints of truth, of truth
Shared its scent, my brother, my wolf, my wolf
Our slow lope ate the miles away
We bayed as we hunted tomorrow.
We fled the pain of yesterday
And its turquoise tears of sorrow.
But I left the desert, the blood we shared,
For lights and a city’s desires.
Now the trail is cold, the red sand bare
As I scry in the man made fires.
Where was the truth, brother? Where was the truth?
Was it there in the lay of the land?
Or the moments between the heartbeats we shared
And the pulse of the hot red sand?
I know the truth, brother. I know the truth.
Too young to understand
I lost my friend, my brother, my wolf,
For a life in an alien land.
And the ripped blue sky as it tumbles down
Leaves me chilled and trembling still
Yet I find his tracks in the sand ahead
And at midnight I hear his call.
At midnight I hear my brother’s call.
Yes, at midnight I answer his call.
Some people thrive at boarding school. I did not. I felt I had been wrenched from my family, my farm and the animals I loved most, our sheep dogs. To a child once free to roam across thousands of acres alongside two or three dogs, the convent school’s tightly packed dormitories and concrete borders seemed like a jail on foreign soil. I returned home on holidays to find school friends saw me as different to them. They were secure in the knowledge that they would be there forever; I would always be leaving. It left me in a void. And so I had one foot in the past and one foot in the present. But always, my loving sheepdogs were my connection.