A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2007, vol 3 no 3

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Jeannine Hall Gailey


The Fox-Wife Describes Their Courtship

I had given up the world, given my body to death or any possible rebirth. When he found me at the shrine of Inari, I became something else. But when the smoke rose, it was still me, terrified, turning and turning from the heat. How could he quiet this new body, its voices and tears? When we're alone, I forget my other life sometimes, forget my sharp teeth and tail. I become the thing beneath his hands, softer.

We all wear our voices out calling for each other, and when does that song end? He loved the falling cherry blossoms, the crumpling peonies, the dying willow. He always sought to put things back together. I tear things apart. The instruments of bone and blood are the same; the intents are different. I look down and see my paw on his hand. He sees the half-moons of nails, the pink skin. He sees the hope in changing seasons, and I only see the leaves departed, the savage inky trails of the moon in the grass.

I know before he does
how he will leave me,
a little temple of spine and fur.