Kij Johnson

Why she howls: A coyote love song

It was cold
the stars sharp as ice shards
in the river-dark sky.
The ground glittered
underfoot,
hard with frost.

For heat
I danced alone
crying for a lover
blood thick with wanting
scent rich as summer greasewood.

His eyes were river-dark;
shape sheathed, hard in soft.
Muscles swelled against my mouth
when I bit.

He heard me,
smelled me,
saw me dance—
how could he not want me?
And I wanted him.
Nevertheless I flirted:
a coyote, and therefore inconstant

We ran to the arroyo
where even on cold nights
the cholla spice the air
slice it into jagged shapes.

Teeth against my nape,
he caught me,
pressed me belly-down
to the hard earth.
His hips cupped mine.
I moved my tail aside for him.

The thrust was sweet,
the release
rich as blood
pouring over my tongue
at the kill.

We shivered together for a time
but he left at dawn.

Coyote—
I forgot my lover
would be one as well.

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© 2007 Kij Johnson