This poem came out of the February 7, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by Anthony Barrette minor_architect, and moonwolf1988. It was sponsored by Anthony Barrette.
I have followed the Yellowstone wolf restoration all along, and I'm thrilled by its success. I recommend the scientific summary "Ten Years of Yellowstone Wolves" for an overview of their impact on the ecosystem. You might also like to read about keystone species. Yellowstone is one of the national parks my family has visited, and it really lives up to its reputation; go there if you can.
We did not realize how much of the puzzle
had gone missing until we replaced
this grizzled gray piece.
Once again wolfsong rose
like the trembling mist of the hot springs,
awakening the lazy world of Yellowstone.
Though seldom seen,
their presence was felt everywhere,
influence as invisible and powerful as the wind.
The wolves ate the elk,
who grew more alert
to the returning danger.
The tender young willows,
once devoured by elk,
began to flourish.
Bears and foxes thrived
on the tattered carcasses
left by the wolves.
The shifting of elk and willows
began to entice more songbirds
to nest along the riverbanks.
The trophic cascade continues,
slow regrowth of an ecosystem
with its keystone species finally restored --
the cathedral's arch is stable now
above the pillared trees,
the chorus a glory of thin gray voices.