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  • Writer's pictureLammergeier Staff

Excerpt from "The Elsewhere Oracle" | Michele Battiste

Updated: May 25, 2023



The Wolves

Woman with a torch, child and wolf (1904) by Richard Roland Holst. Rijksmuseum.
Woman with a torch, child and wolf (1904) by Richard Roland Holst. Rijksmuseum.

Some say they went away but they

did not. Some say—with fear

or hostility—they return to

our lands, but that is based

on one or another false

premise: that they are not

the land. That the woods

could have given them up. They

have lingered like we have

lingered. They claimed

the forest like we claimed

the mountain. They have eaten

very few of us. We argue

viciously among ourselves


and the Council once mentioned

extermination as if that were

an option. As if the wolves

were made monstrous by

nature and not neglect.

As if the hunter did not love them

like better versions of himself.




Oracle

To have an enemy is to identify ourselves—at least partially—through an oppositional framework. What we are not. What we hate. What we are against. To have an enemy also gives us—at least some—purpose. Not necessarily to ensure our own victory, but to ensure their defeat. Even if it means we lose a little. Or a lot. To have an enemy narrows our thinking, as we prioritize information that confirms our biases or justifies actions that we would otherwise abhor.


At the same time, to have an enemy empowers us, demands strength and fortitude (that we perhaps did not know we had) to defend what we love or what we believe. We can offer grace and honor to an enemy, fighting them without villainizing them (and, in the process, villainizing ourselves). If you are in conflict with someone, maybe it’s time to stop thinking about winning and losing. Maybe it’s time to think about what you are fighting about, what’s at stake, and what outcomes you want. This might be different than defeating your enemy and it might change your battle plans. Or it might reinforce them. Fight on.





Michele Battiste lives in Colorado where she wades in snowmelt until her ankles turn numb. She has published several poetry chapbooks and three full-length collections, including Waiting for the Wreck to Burn, which won the Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press. When she isn't writing, she's fighting climate change and helping to protect nature.

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