The Wilding Of Envy

trans-ing in the wild

 I’ll invent our fortunes, spin them from my own skin


                                      Jeannine Hall Gailey

My sister is fox

with the moon burnishing her hair

to a metallic shine,


and her three tails wearing

thread loosened

from a spider’s web


as she stalks

the forest smelling

a chimney’s breath,

the damp green

of ferns and fallen leaf —


the white bells

of mushrooms trembling

in the wind.


And I am deer

kicking down berries

from a high bush,


flexing my ears

to hear branch rubbing

against branch, the rattle of seeds


calling out

my hunger for more

than hawthorn fruit,


the skill to shift

from patent hoof

to plush paw,


from shy poise

to flickering prowl —


to be like her

if only for a day

into night,


to know which herbs

and slant of light,


which drift of smoke

and shake of fungus chimes

will make this

and her magic transpire,


the kitsune’s spell

and its story

of a house, a man —


the bathed shimmer

of a woman’s flesh

in candlelight.


I was reading an article about the need for fantasy in both literature for adults and children, if only to let the doors of our imagination stay opened and challenged. And I also thought of how as writers/artists we go through phases transitioning from one perspective to another, from one period of experience in our lives to the next. In myth and folktales this theme is always prevalent, shape-shifting from animal to human or from one natural species to another. It made me think about the personified animal world and maybe how one animal might envy another’s abilities, traits, or behavior, thus, wishing to change their own forms. In particular, the shy, cautious and reticent ways of the deer compared to the sly, clever and adventuresome even seductive ways of the fox. Namely the fox spirit of the “Kitsune”. The Japanese vixen that had the ability to assume the shape of a mortal woman and procure a home and man for herself through long-studied tricks of magic and herbs. She also grew more than one tail, up to nine, which determined her age and the level of her power and its effectiveness. In a way, the nature of nature’s beasts and forest often mirrors that of our own nature and human condition/ environment.




  1. Wendy,

    This is so wonderfully feral. It stirs the pulse.
    The scents and sounds are mesmerizing, the actions
    and reactions beguiling…
    (for a moment, I am that “doe kicking down berries
    from a high bush”.) Oh the music in those lines, the energy.

    You have once again outdone even yourself. A new favorite.



  2. What a clever writer you are, Wendy. The descriptions in this piece nudge the reader to quickly reread. I’d read & go back immediately. I’m in awe– thinking how you did all this. I enjoyed this.



  3. Love the tight images,
    the hunger to shift from shy, timid
    to one who prowls, takes what she wants in life.

    Much enjoyed reading, Dear Wendy.


  4. Dear Sarah

    Thank you much for sharing your thoughts and enthusiasm on this poem! I am deeply touched by your words and al so glad you enjoyed its contents. That means a great deal to me!

    Dear Jan

    How nice to hear from you! I deeply appreciate your kind words toward this poem and am so glad you could relate. Thank you for this!

    Dear Kerri

    I deeply appreciate you sharing your impressions of this poem and am happy you could relate to its perspective! Your kind words and intuitive insight are deeply valued!

    My best to all of you,
    Take care


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