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Breath & Shadow

Spring 2022 - Vol. 19, Issue 2

"This Coyote Year"

written by

Shullamuth Ballinger

My dear friend, do you remember

Whether it was Solstice or Samhain

That we saw the coyote?

We were back in the willows

People passing feet away

But we were in another world

Giving thanks for this one

She approached us on her hidden trail

Paused at arm’s length

Met our eyes. Walked away.

And we were blessed.

Coyote, giver of gifts I never wanted

Like humility, slow thinking, and time

Psycho pomp of doors slammed shut

And overgrowth burned to ash.

There is a center where

Creation meets destruction.

No name for that nexus.

Just this coyote year.

In the wordless no place

After death, before birth, between

Who I was and who I am becoming

I’m scared.

Please let me be afraid

Even if you don’t want to think about why.

The coyote is laughing,

But everything stops.

Winter comes. The trees shed leaves.

Contracting into their heart.

Like the inhale we hold before exhale

One endless circle breath.

We can weather.

We can let life happen.

Coyote teaches

We don’t need control.

If we’re not piloting

We can fly.


Not old me

Not new me

Just me.

My ageless soul and ephemeral body caught up in this passing romance.


It will be.

All right.

Shullamuth is a teacher and writer dealing with long Covid symptoms and recently diagnosed with COPD.

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