The past will not lie buried.
Little bones and teeth
harrowed from grave's soil,
tell different tales.
My father's bank box told me,
in a paper signed by his own hand,
the name quite clearly: William.
All the years he denied it,
that name, that place of birth,
that compound near Kiev,
and I so eager for the variants
with which he lived his life.
In the middle of my listening,
that old interrupter,
with the unkindness of all coroners,
revealed his third name to me.
Not William, not Will, but Wolf.
And so at last I know the story,
my old wolf, white against the Russian snows,
the cracking of his bones,
the stretching sinews,
the coarse hair growing boldly
on the belly, below the eye.
Why grandfather, my children cry,
what great teeth you have,
before he devours them
as he devoured me,
all of me,
bones and blood,
all of my life.
About the Author: Jane Yolen is the multi-award-winning author of over two hundred books for adults, adolescents, and children, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and folktale collections. Her most recent book of poetry is The Radiation Sonnets.
"Will" is copyright © 1995 by Jane Yolen, and first appeared as a limited edition print from A Midsummer Night's Dream Press. The poem may not be reproduced in any form without the author’s express written permission.