Coyote Calls

Coyote wants to know if you’ve ever seen the desert
and you tell him you dreamed it as a child
in a bedroom facing west in a corner of the world
where shadows fell across the hearts of good people
and made them fearful, made them weary,
made them lonely all the time.

And you are lonely all the time.

You see your mother so tired, your father a stranger,
your teachers hypnotized by the ghosts of their own forgotten souls
peering from the tomb of the classroom blackboard.
You ask to clap erasers and watch the dance of dust
in the dirty breeze.

Coyote calls and your heart rises in your throat,
catches on your breath and you cough through a pastel haze.

You saw him once, nosing through garbage
behind the Japanese restaurant high in the Hollywood Hills,
saw him again, loping along the side of the road
that winds through Griffith Park and ends up in a graveyard
marked with stones laid flat against clipped green grass,
the big mowers rumble and sweep them clean.

You followed him to the mountains,
caught sight of him in a sunsplit moment when you forgot
to think and there he was, his yellow eyes watching you,
the carcass of a small bird in his mouth,
he runs, dropping feathers.

You drove your car across the plains on a phantom journey,
your feet never touching the Earth from sea to sea,
you rolled on blacktop laid atop concrete, laid atop gravel,
laid atop the red rock ruins of another way to be.

Coyote ducks behind the juniper, a narrow hip, a flick of tail,
his head low, the fall of his footpads a tattoo
across the gathering gloom.

In a painted land you stood before the setting sun and prayed
for an answer, you spanned the sky with your outstretched arms,
“Where is my path?” you cried. “Where is my path?”
And the dust rose in four directions:
Here, here, here and here.

Coyote calls you on the telephone you carry in your pocket.
You reach deep and come up with a handful of feathers and red dirt,
the dance of dust in the copper gold light,
and you hear him laugh across the distance:
Here, here, here and here.

Wherever your foot falls, that is your path.
Coyote calls and you answer:
I’m coming. Wait for me.

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