And here is the hour when all my strength fails, and the dread and distaste for tomorrow, when I return to slavery, finally overtakes me.
I did not leave my house all weekend, and I feel all the better for it. From the time when I turned off the key on Friday evening until this very moment, I have not walked nor driven beyond the boundary lines of my property.
A wolf lifted its eerie voice in the woods Thursday night. Saturday morning, walking among the trees and vines in the mist, looking at how all living things are budding out and making themselves vulnerable to the killing frost that will surely come in a week or two, I found the ravaged body of a little calf. He had either slipped through the barbed wire fence into my woods, or else the wolf had dragged him there. I looked at his little hooves, so perfect and dainty, and at his little tail with its black tuft on the end, a tail that will never swat the flies of summertime. It’s a difficult thing to look upon the brutal but correct out-working of nature’s ways. The calf had been alive– he wandered away from his mama, who likely bawls for him even now under the slice of moon –, and in an unguarded instant, he looked up and saw the merciless eyes, eyes like lamps in the dark wood, and then the lean gray shape leaped at him, and he was no longer alive. The wolf needed to eat– who can say when he had his last meal? — and what he did was not done, unlike the acts of those whom I know and deal with daily, from evil or malice or cruelty. He needed to eat, and he took his food, just as I do when I open the refrigerator or unscrew the lid of a jar or hand green paper slips to a woman leaning out of a little window as she hands me a sack and a cup.
And now he was gone except for his fragments. I stood under the mellow tapping of the rain on my hat and the shoulders of my old jacket, and looked at what remained. I knelt and took up his jawbones, picked clean, and held them in my hand, and I marveled at the teeth, firm in the white sickle, teeth that will never chew the emerald stalks that push up even now through the cold mud of the pasture in which he was born. I held and rubbed the bones, and then I took them to the base of the dogwood tree a few yards away, and placed them on the ground beneath the tree that will soon bloom its symbolic Easter flowers, and I left the woods, walking down the hill, through the pasture where life is trying to come forth before its time, and went into my house. Except to fill the bird feeders and feed the battered old cat who strolls in and out of my life, I did not leave these walls again, and will not until tomorrow morning forces me to.