by Carolyn Oliver
Early sun nestled under trees and eaves
that cupped our voices counting up past ten
and naming creatures—shrews, dolphins, bats, whales—
who’d catch the news of our passing through fog,
or night, or krill clouds in the deep. Mothers,
I told you, echolocate too. For months
I’d hummed and heard you in my dark, held tight.
You laughed, then stilled in a breath. There, her lope
arrested by our steps, a shock I took
for dog or fox adrift in hard-bright snow.
Coyote: coat ice-grime gray and fulvous,
spear points for ears, broad muzzle crying wolf
a generation back. Her level gaze
took us in, anchored fixtures on the brim
of her domain, like pines, or sparrows framed
against the pale sky. Pulled taut with wonder
at the wild other, in silence we snared
the trembling whirr of rabbits, winter-thin
under white slopes. Or so it felt, until
wind chimes belled into little silver screams.
She shook the sound away, unfazed, set off
at speed. I took your hand to press it warm—
cold snuffled at our seams—but launched my gaze
outward, to catch the ripple and the arc
of her smoke-slip passage: her tail a brush
of flame, her way a hill we’ve yet to raze.
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