In a Flash, the Coyote Devours Her Prey, and We Both Bear Witness

Kathryn Smith

Sometimes we are the trees

threatening to crush our houses

and sometimes we are the houses.

We live inside ourselves

or we thrash to get out. We are doors but never

walls. We are all halls and hollows.

Sometimes I’m the swallow nesting in your front yard

and you are the cacophony of something domesticated,

hens in a cage and cats disputing territory.

Sometimes we’re the silence of a coyote

stalking its meal of dusk. We are territory but never

the boundaries. We are the “no trespassing” sign

and the trespass. The meal of dusk. The fur

flying. Sometimes I am the flowering quince,

thorny and fruitless. Sometimes entangled

in your nodding boughs. I’m the wild mint,

you’re the marsh thick with nettles. I am the slug

impervious to sting. I expose my ankles

like a risqué Victorian. I’m a rash without solace,

I’m a ruckus in the river. You are the stream

teeming with algae. I’m the dandelion green and you

are the field. You have always been

the field, and you know where the bull moose

beds down in you and where the musk rat nests

and the heron waits. I am the wait. I am the heron’s

right eye, shifting.

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