BACKTRACKS (©Words and Music by Paul F. Cowlan)

My greatest childhood terror, now an invaluable ally. Fortunately for me he stuck to my trail through thick and thin: but then, he never did give up easily.

An old grey wolf with a frosted eye came into my dreams last night.
He gave me a look as he passed me by. I think I understood it right.
He said, “I know you, and you know me; alone, alive, along.
Follow my track, don’t look back, and you won’t go too far wrong.”

When I was a child, tucked up in bed, afraid of the howling dark,
I could imagine a wolf like a moonlit cloud loping across the park.
So I’d fix my eyes on the bedroom door, draw the blankets to my chin,
while every creak on the stair told me he was there, waiting to come in.

The nights were long and the house was dark. I never saw his face.
An owl might call or a dog might bark, but he never left a trace.
He could come and he could go whenever he chose his time.
And part of me belonged to him, and part of him was mine.

The older I grew so he withdrew. I forgot to be afraid.
There were too many dancers in my dreams to remember the trails he made.
I burned my nights down to the dawn and I dreamed so wild.
Sweet whispers in the dark, an aching heart; no place for the fears of a child.

But out in the cold and snow, where the wise ones never go,
out of sight, time out of mind, he was pacing to and fro.


The days drew down and the years all led to a place where the ways divide.
To the left? To the right? Or straight ahead? I could not decide.
Walking crazy circle against the sun, I might still be there;
but a clear, cold sound spun me around, a voice on the darkening air.

And an old grey wolf with a diamond eye rose up in the failing light.
He gave me a look as he passed me by. I know I read it right.
He said, “I know you, and you know me; alone, alive, along.
Follow my track, don’t look back, you won’t go too far wrong.”