She hears it again, then, and knows it—a wolf caught in a trap. She looks down near the fence line. It is a wolf, beyond beautiful, with its leg caught in a trap. She moves closer, aware now of how the cold is biting into her. She studies the wolf. The wolf is smart. It is almost finished. She thinks, in only the briefest of thoughts, of releasing it.
The wolf is nearly free.
In its freedom it will lose a leg.
It will be worth it.
She holds perfectly still.
More still than a dead person.
Which she has seen, many times—a corpse in snow.
She watches the wolf chew its own leg by the light of the moon, by the rhythm of its journey. The moon makes its slow arc in the sky, and inside the moon’s movement, reflected in the girl’s eyes, the wolf finally frees itself.
It is then that she does something pure bodied. Child minded. She goes to where the rust-orange and black metal of the trap sits holding its severed limb, to where blood and animal labor have reddened and dirtied the pristine white of the snow—like the violence against a canvas. There, without thinking, she pulls down her pants, her underwear, squats with primal force, and pisses and pisses where the crime happened. A steam cloud moves upward from the snow and the blood as the relief of rising heat warms her skin.
Her eyes close.
Her mouth fills with spit. This is how the sexuality of a girl is formed—an image at a time—against white; taboo, thoughtless, corporeal.
She opens her eyes.
The piss smell and the blood smell and the youth smell of her skin mingle. She licks her lips.
The wolf runs.
It runs three legged, like all damaged creatures, across the snow.
She thinks: this is true.
She thinks: this is a life.
She thinks: I do not want to die, but my life will always be like this—wounded and animal, lurching against white. She bends down and rubs her hands in the blood. She lifts her hands, her eyes, her heart to the heavens, in the space where they say god is, a god she has never known, a god she will replace with something else. Her small hands make what might look to an outsider like a prayer shape. But she is not praying.
She closes her eyes. This is the night it happens. She looks down at her red hands. She laughs, up. She bends down and wrenches the severed limb from the trap. And then she runs toward a self.
What is a girl but this? This obscene and beautiful making against the expanse of white. This brilliant imagination, inventing meaning.
Lidia Yuknavitch, The Small Backs Of Children, 2015.