Weasels and wolverines share a common bite. Both species have two back molars rotated ninety degrees inward, for tearing frozen meat and crushing bones. They are successful scavengers.
The wolverine that ranges in North America is Gulo gulo luscus. Gulo: glutton, two times; luscus: one-eyed, once. In Europe, the wolverine is Gulo gulo gulo. Glutton, three times. The German word for wolverine, Vielfraß, reflects this.
The University of Michigan mascot remains the wolverine, though there has been a single sighting of the animal in the state in 200 years. Once, outside the main library on campus, someone was yelling into a megaphone: "Are you a wolverine? Then you're a wolverine for life."
I was often in that library to access the papers of Ken and Ann Mikolowski in the Special Collections Department. In the 1960s, the Mikolowskis founded the Alternative Press in Detroit. The AP produced serial publications with many of the poets and artists associated with Black Mountain College.
In the papers was a newspaper clipping about the Mikolowski's close friend Robert Creeley, the poet. The clipping, describing Creeley's one eye: "He refuses to wear a patch, giving him an eternal wink." Creeley lost his eye when he was four. Many of his poems use the fulcrum of a single eye to destabilise or estrange an observation.
In Yosemite, I volunteered as a falcon aerie monitor. I stared at rock ledges through a scope, often wearing a bandana over the unused eye to keep it closed. Crystal, the lead falcon monitor, would help me to train the scope on the location of a known aerie. She watched the sky with binoculars and warned me when falcons were incoming.
We were watching because falcons are still endangered in California. Their nesting is closely monitored. Sometimes, climbing routes approached aeries, and the routes would be closed or re-drawn if the aeries were occupied.
We rarely saw falcons. But for years I have thought frequently of the process of pinpointing a tiny ledge within a huge granite rock face. We would start with a prominent crack, and move from there, to other cracks and ledges, patches of lichen, orange, black, green, until the scope finally rested on a spot where something might be hatching.
all drops into
face is heavy
with the sight. I can
feel my eye breaking.