Winter Coat Tinged Platinum

By Jeanine Stevens

  South Lake Tahoe


To the city yard for sand bags to plug

the hole where the raccoon dug under the cabin.

Between flurries, a walk in the pines.


Ahead, 100 yards, a coyote crosses the road,

fluffy white, yellow, gray like a big blond fox.

I stop, raise my arm in salute

not sure if this is a right gesture.


Watching, turning

toward me, a long time.


(Something familiar, head and shoulders foreshortened

like the giraffe pictograph, the Fezzan,

North Africa, 100 B.C.

Same stance, hesitation,

no threat, something beyond,      curiosity?)


I look back to see if I’m being followed.


He trots on, probably to trash bins

behind Safeway,

winter coat tinged platinum,

curved back mimics

Mount Rose in the distance.


Later, sitting by the woodstove snapping cedar,

what to make of contact with topaz eyes,

wild fur, the edge of things?

I think artifact

look at my Washoe basket, buck saw,

map of prehistoric game trails.


The cabin warms; ice chunks slide

from the tin roof.

On the Tamarack, a Red-headed woodpecker

chisels out another unwritten code.



Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento. She has advanced degrees in Anthropology and Education. Her second poetry collection, Inheritor, was published by Future Cycle Press, 2016. Recent winner of the WOMR Cape Cod National Poetry Competition and the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award, 2017. She just received her fifth Pushcart Nomination. Poems have been published in South Dakota Review, Pearl, Evansville Review, Valparaiso Poetry Journal, Forge, Rosebud, Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat and others. Jeanine also enjoys collage and Tai Chi. Raised in Indiana, she now divides her time between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

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