Three omega wolf cubs wearing defiance, (baseball
caps backwards, baggy pants, bulky chains securing
empty wallets) in the edgy interval
of peach-fuzz chins and croaking voices. I shoo
them out of the hospital basement
on my way to the change room.
As I exit, the staff entrance door clicks
locked behind me. I see them illuminated
by the streetlight, circling,
a pack on the shore
waiting for their prey
to exhaust itself
Rummaging through my purse,
instead of my staff badge
which unlocks the door,
I find my key ring.
Ignoring the flutter of hummingbird
wings caged by my ribs, I stride
through them, chin up, shoulders square,
make it half way to my car
before I hear feet
slapping closer, loud as a
beaver tail’s warning.
I spin around, keys protruding
from my clenched fist like talons.
They freeze mid-step,
turn to retreat in unison.
You’re fucking brave when I’m facing you
hurled at their backs as insurance.
Once locked in my car, shivering
like birch leaves in the evening breeze,  
I struggle to stem the news feed stream
of alternate ugly endings,
texture of blood, broken bone, bruises
supplied by my nursing experience.
I imagine them
laughing at the
harmless only joking fun
still can’t leave a building
without clutching keys
in my hand right hand.

First appearing in Bywords Feb. 2017