A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2006, vol 2 no 1

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Ray Rasmussen

Hunter's Moon

Minus 10 degrees, a night walk on Whitemud Creek, the spruce trees outlined against a deep purple sky.

I stop, begin tai chi, mirroring the twisting branches. As I move through 'wave hands as clouds', Orion is framed in my arms. A gibbous moon casts long shadows on the snow, then drops below the bank.

I start toward home in the darkness, feel a compelling need to look back, the hair on my neck rising. There, near the other bank, a shadow form, wolf-shape, not moving.

I freeze. Wait.

Fingers of cold slip in.


Suddenly the shadow stirs, melts into the forest. A ‘yip’ tells me it’s a coyote.

I run through my memories for accounts of coyotes attacking humans, find none.

Still, I walk backwards for a short distance, then turn, hurry home, looking over my shoulder,  again,  and again.

owl’s call –
boots squeak on
dry snow