A Different Kind of Motion by Roald Hoffmann
for Katelijne Vanduffel The wolf-child creeps around the clearing where children build a campfire. She hears a new sound, laughter, cross talk. Upright shapes jump blurred across the fire. But they have dogs that smell her, so she can’t get near. After they run off, she sniffs the fruit skins, some colored paper they left. She raises a paw, then tries to stand, as she saw the children stand, but her rear legs remain bent, she falls over and over and over. She hitches away, in her crab- like motion, fast as the rabbits she catches and eats. From the edge of the forest the wolf-child watches men hoe the fields. They’ve begun to set traps for her. She tries again to stand, her front legs on a tree trunk, leg over leg up the bark, rearing up so the sun coming through the leaves hits her muddaubed belly. Her back legs hurt, like the day she tried to lope after the wolves, before she came on hitching. She falls away from the pain, with a grunt, not the tinkling water sound of children in her ears. In time, she learns to hobble leaning on a stick, and the wolf-child comes on stage with a different kind of motion.
Roald Hoffmann was born in 1937 in Złoczów, then Poland. He came to the US in 1949, and has long been at Cornell University in the USA, active as a theoretical chemist. In chemistry, he has taught generations how to think about molecular orbitals.
Hoffmann is also a writer, carving out his own land between poetry, philosophy, and science. He has published five books of non-fiction, written three produced plays, and six volumes of poetry, including two book length selections of his poems in Spanish and Russian translations.