Near the cottage wall she creeps, moonlight shimmering gray-white on shining fur. Padded paws against earth’s crust. Pausing to listen to the wind’s sway in the pines. Pausing before hunching forward again, straining to hear the bay of coyotes by the sea. Scents of spring daffodils waft up, crushed underfoot.
An owl hoots overhead. Freeze. Move not a muscle. Growl not. Bare not white fangs in the moonlight. Freeze.
A life of movement and pause, movement and pause. A life of hunting beneath the archer’s moon followed by the blackness which rises to the bow and circles finally into an unblinking eye in the sky.
Wind strums the branches; shadows obscure the moon. Time to move, low to the ground, feeling the feral passion rise. The stomach rumbles. Up ahead, around the curve, a flash of movement, the quick patter of mouse feet across dried leaves.
In a second, not even a second, the back hunches and the legs fill with powerful strength. Waiting. The mouse pauses, flicks its tiny pink nose, sniffing. What whispers the wind in this sudden lull? Mouse freezes.
Luckily the moon wipes clouds out of its unblinking eye and the owl, mysteriously, calls its lover across the forest. Mouse dives underground.
The fox slowly unclenches taut muscles and creeps forward against the wind.
The old man sits silently in chair on the porch, unnoticed by all. So many years in the forest and he stalks like his brother the fox. Instinct, tuned like his father’s fiddle, leads a hungry belly to his brother the deer. Tomorrow he’ll hunt. Tomorrow he’ll sniff into the north for the scent of that which feeds the marrow; that which supports breath.
A lone goose travels across the white of the moon’s eye. The moon slowly blinks. The old man turns for bed. The forest still. Life and death continues its endless dance and the owl dives feathered passion to the tree where his lover readies.