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From the shrinking plains

the cranes unfurl themselves, white

dresses on a backyard clothesline. They

pull free of their pins and fly

skyward among clouds until they are

white dresses and they fall

into the den of the wild

dog—the African painted wolf

pups who first shy away and then

snuff off the scent

of humanity--bite, tug

and tear the fabric  to shreds,

the white threads that mothers take

up in their claws and teeth

and try so desperately to darn

the great wounds in the earth.


--Barbara Iobst

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