HOW TO SKIN A COYOTE
Make two cuts following the line where the belly and back fur meet.
Peel away the pelt
like the bark of a birch tree. The bone you see becomes branches;
the body is a thin young thing.
Our father will teach you in myth this animal presented death
to the world and so you must
be careful with the lips and eyes, they are tenderness. Wrap them
in silk as a shaman would
and think not of how things are broken down, but how they are most
essential in their smallest parts.
Hold each paw to your ear and you will hear the weary
sound of winter returning.
It might be enough to follow those tracks in the snow and feel
the moon at your back
the quiet field pressing in, the night making you more and more
aware. A mouth full
of rabbits sleeping. Your thickening coat—one like the damaged
A BASIC FIELD GUIDE TO MOTHERS
The mother always places her floral breast toward the sun and into the brightest light—the rest of
her, dead. This is the threatening attitude, intended to frighten enemies, of which she has many.
Fig. 41 is the mother baring her teeth before a storm. She is prepared to eat her own
children—the mark of an aggressive species. Seldom found far from permanent water, the
mother occupies the space between failure and fear. She is known to, on occasion, attempt
suicide. Note the conspicuously beaded throat. Each soft trill is merely an ornament, her mimicry
is meant to deceive. Perversely, when she is called, she sits erect and is silent.
Note: After Jessica Smith’s erasure series Exact Resemblance, from the source material Animal Camouflage.
JESSICA BIXEL is somewhere in Michigan. Her recent work has appeared in Parcel, Tinderbox Poetry, and Birdfeast, among others.