Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tule Coyote


In the light of early evening
I see their dark shapes move
Like the shadows of clouds move
Across the shorn golden fields.
Probably deer, I think,
Until they turn, and their
Intelligent, hunted faces
Pierce me with a gaze
That says it has learned
The power of the gun
In just three short centuries of war.

Here, where 100,000 acres
Of water rose and fell,
Came and went
In a rhythm
That called millions of birds,
that shaped migrations,
that had a mind,
The coyote stalks
The cultivated rows
the edges of history,
the dikes that create a new frame
Around ancient cycles,
around what is left,
just 13,000 acres.
Their dark shapes hunt the dry brush,
Muzzle through grassy havens,
Size up the new contours
Of marsh, crop, roads.

Overhead, scattered wisps of a once
Great body of geese
Snake across the face
Of the moon, rising.
Wheeling over phantom waters,
They search the land below, remembering,
as the coyote remembers,
as something inside me remembers.
How the vast mind falters,
While the waters
Wait like faithful dogs,
Listening for the master's return.

—Tule Lake, Calf., February, 2006


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