The Fox Of Chicago – A Shim Shoy Folktale

by Patrick Coughlin

A Chinese Fox ended up in Chicago of all places

in a boat as it happens

and she never left land since

a very long time ago

The time she had spent on the boat that had brought her

was long long and long

She grew old on that boat

and as everyone knows

the older a chinese fox grows the better the tricks she knows

In those early times

those first few years

she spent much of her time


as an alleycat among the alleycats of Chicago

so different than the cats of china

she was able to get along quite well with them

In the lonely yearning evenings

she would take the form of human beauty

and drink wine all night

served to her by total strangers suddenly posessed of total willingness

and if she went home with them for passion

she would take a little of their life in exchange

no more than a year

perhaps two

She did not want to fall into old bad habits

and she didn’t and she hasn’t

And when they did die, down the line

they went with a smile

an unspoken part of the deal, you know

She fell in love with a man, however

and so of course he was drained to his early joyous death

and she swore she would never love again

She started walking the city in the shape of an old man

and in this shape she became what the humans call “rich”

She bought a vast parcel of forestland

away from the city

and in the night’s middle

built her house little

deep in the heart of her forest

She became friends with the American Mole, who is the

greatest conversationalist of all American animals

She would still go to the city nights

always in a different form and she got older and older and the human

shapes she took  grew more and more sublime in their beauty

She became an artful conversationalist herself from all her time spent talking

with the philosophical moles and she became one of those rare secretly famous

for she had taken the habit of showing her tail for a split second,

whatever form she took

A creature of legend, the Fox of Chicago

One night she had an eager young artist by the chin and she flashed her tail

A girl noticed the fiery tail flashing from her bottom

and as her old Chinese Grandmother had told her of foxes, she shouted

“Look out she’s a fox!”

The Fox looked at the girl and said,

“After all these years I have been found out

Now there is nothing but dust to turn into”

And she fell into herself as dust

and the dust blew away

into the lonely yearning night

But don’t be sad, it was just the trick of an old Fox.

Thank You