How I Became a Coyote

I was not always
a coyote like this. I was once
a little boy with a mother and a father
just like you, but I got hungry
for another kind of food
so I went away, away
from the home of my father.
I went alone.

Then I came to a newborn river
where I bathed. The water
was clear there and cold
so I drank a little. A soft-eyed woman
was bathing herself
at a curl in the rapids,
a beautiful one. She offered herself
to me. This was in the mountains.

After that I became a hunter
without a gun. In the summer I ate
mostly roots and bugs. In the winter
I ate other things,
things I do not like to think of
as food, and always
I was cold.

One winter when I was out hunting
around on the prairie,
I saw his shadow. He’d been watching
me all along from behind some stones.
Now he came out,
and he laughed
and sniffed me over. I’m Coyote,
he said. You think you are
a hunter, but you have no gun.
I can kill you if I want to.
And he did.

It wasn’t bad.
At least when I got up and looked around
I wasn’t hungry anymore. Then Coyote said,
Now you are dead
like me. Now you
are a coyote, too.
You will never go hungry again,
and you’ll never get fat.

This all happened
just like that.

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