The Wolves – Bert Spinks

Five wolves went hiding in the corners of the island,
each with stripes across their spines just like the newly-
arrived men’s, who also wore faces darkened with the
desire to kill and devour whatever might present itself
as an indication that life
had come before them, and would go on long after they
had gone. The wolves: they made homes for themselves
in the ridges of the mountains or the entanglements of
trees, or roamed from rainforest to altiplano snapping
their teeth and howling out 
the hard words the visitors refused to learn. The hunting
parties set out from Hobart Town. And the governor may
have put up posters warning that the bushrangers were
fleet-footed and flash and on the loose, but no-one seemed
to have the foresight to
anticipate what would be lost if those scared men so longed
to wage war against whatever anomaly would swell from
the slender form of what they wished reality was. They were
homesick, and they would strike every gum and every ghost,
every wolf and every tongue
from the land, if they only had a musket and some shot. So
that’s what they got. They formed a long line across the island,
a cord to strangle out the voice that held the words of so many
thousand years of wisdom; they put a broad, pale curtain over
the colours that cannot help
but spring up from the earth; they chased down those five wolves
that wandered, self-willed amidst the wilderness, and pulled their
teeth out, stuffed their throats with cloth, stripped them of their skins
and left them die, of exposure to the cold; and though the island
still throws up the dark and fatal
shadows of a beauty that could break through the walls of paradise,
and though our men are still afraid of the forests that loom everywhere
over us, let’s give these blokes their credit – they had made an impact.
Some things, you see, are replaceable. Others, though, such as languages,
species, and races, are not.