Coyote Eats the City

I have a fragile body but a deceptively strong mind.
This is what I have learned about myself from hunting
Coyote in the dead of night through city streets.
She pisses in the gutter and her eyes flash for a moment
but not seeing me in the darkness, she stalks onward,
ever hunting small prey like armadillos and rats,
never seeming to notice the frail human tailing her.
She is opposite to everything here, the teen girls
who stop under a neon sign to take pictures,
their short dresses glistening like blood and glass.
She seems to have no memory of place,
simply walking on, always on, never going back.
She is like time. She looks for anarchy to create,
but this isn’t a place where she can rule.
I know I am in love with a god when she finally
notices me and turns once to look at me.
I would violate your body if it wasn’t stolen,
she says in a low growl, panting, drinking from
the rain water that fell this morning.
I look down at my human hands and wish
one last time they were claws. I used to be prey.
I made myself the biggest predator of all.
A man.
Coyote chews on the side of a building
but it breaks her teeth and she shakes her head
in anger. The city has broken her. She walks on,
tail dragging in the filth and oil and mud,
searching for the way things used to be,
for forest and shadow and fern.

[Holly Lyn Walrath is a writer, editor, and publisher. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Analog, and Flash Fiction Online. She is the author of several books of poetry including Glimmerglass Girl (2018), Numinose Lapidi (2020), and The Smallest of Bones (2021). She holds a B.A. in English from The University of Texas and a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.]