Wolfskin and Blossoms
By Vincent Valcroft
I paint my brow thick with crimson aspiration;
Mine is the scent of fresh blood and old leather.
I have slept little since I began making preparations,
But I dream of dark forests, wet fur, and frozen weather.
My skin is hot -- not with fever, nor disease of the body;
I am alive, every hair follicle stiff, my muscles and veins throbbing.
My flesh drips salty sweat, holy oil, and musk of animal longing,
As I scrape blade upon hide, cutting and braiding strips for flogging.
Smiling, I know that elsewhere my brothers do the same,
Honoring the ancient pact wherein our wolf-mothers seeded
Their wombs with the figs of our fathers, fruit of our ancestral name.
To this day, the Luperci ensure that the Rites are still heeded.
When dawn caresses dark, birthing light from labors of eventide,
I snuff out my fire, bury my traces, and leave the hidden place,
Covering its entrance with snow, branches, and brush intertwined.
The sun stings, the breeze burns, and the wind washes my face.
I shoulder my wolfskin and draw the ears over my crown;
My eyes peer out of hollows through which wolf eyes once gleamed,
And I run -- faster than a man, fed by the ritual and delicious sounds
Of the forest creatures: some hiding or hunting, others feeding or fucking.
I smell the fig-milk, dog-scent, and goat-roast of the hearth-feast
Far before I see the pyre breathing and spitting ember and smoke
My thoughts are no longer those of a man, but of a man-beast
And my ears twitch to hear the laughter and songs of womenfolk.
I pass beneath evergreen shade and pause beside frozen waters.
I see the faithful waiting, some watching the path before me.
My hand curls tightly and I draw my hydra-headed flogger,
Poised to impart benedictions for which the people adore me.
Some shriek, others cheer; but all watch as I pounce to the grove
My eyes devour them, and I flash teeth at the readiness of their flesh.
They smell afraid, yet aroused to be made fruitful by my strokes;
Their scent guides me: I stalk towards the first, growling low at the rest.
She drops to all fours; robes fall to bare breasts, butt, and back;
The waiting women cavort and cry out, starved for the blessing.
I caress soft skin with slow strikes; heavy thunderbolts crack
And she writhes exquisitely as her body blossoms into spring.
When the feasting fires smolder and the dogs lay fed, fat, and spent,
And the people slumber after savoring Lupercalia’s many delights
When the grotto is dark and smoke mingles with the mating scent,
I don my wolfskin and slip away, satisfied until next year’s Rites.
© 2019 Vincent Valcroft