Home > Poetry > A Name
Published: Fri Jul 1 2011
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
A Name

_      _ There is slight motion in my image of a frozen lake near
midnight in this country or Canada. It is known as Wolf Howl
Lake because long ago a white man said that as he looked
from a hill at its shape. There is a tavern at one edge of the
lake. At an opposite edge, a half-hour’s walk from there on
snow and ice, is a cabin where a man lives alone. That’s him
walking now: with some liquor inside, the size of a bug at this
distance. Inching across that gray oval, black forest above,
black sky with stars above that. The glow of tavern has
darkened two dozen of the man’s steps ago. There is a dull
whistle of wind. From closer to him, my image would include
the sound of boots; from closer still, the man’s breaths. He
is about halfway across the lake, toward a short path to his
home, its fireplace, bed, table, framed photo of a somewhat
younger woman. He has walked this route home often, often
before. He has not heard a wolf or wolves howl in his life.
And yet he has never crossed this ice without being aware of
the name where his left boot touches, his right boot, left,
right . . .

Dennis Trudell is the author of Fragments in Us: Recent & Earlier Poems (University of Wisconsin Press), which won the Pollak Prize. He also edited Full Court: A Literary Anthology of Basketball (Breakaway Books). His poems and stories have appeared in North American ReviewAGNI, Georgia Review, TriQuarterly, New England Review, and elsewhere, and have been reprinted in more than twenty anthologies. (updated 5/2011)

Back to top