My Thoughts · poetry

Coyote Encounter in My Poetry

Coyote

Coyote in Native American folklore is a trickster, and I had my experience with this illusive scoundrel and recorded in a poem. My ex-husband and I lived near a Native American burial ground where we walked.

Coyote is a major mythological figure for most Native American tribes, especially those west of the Mississippi. Like real coyotes, mythological coyotes are usually notable for their crafty intelligence, stealth, and voracious appetite. However, American Indian coyote characters vary widely from tribe to tribe. In some Native American coyote myths, Coyote is a revered culture hero who creates, teaches, and helps humans; in others, he is a sort of antihero who demonstrates the dangers of negative behaviors like greed, recklessness, and arrogance; in still others, he is a comic trickster character, whose lack of wisdom gets him into trouble while his cleverness gets him back out. In some Native coyote stories, he is even some sort of combination of all three at once.

http://www.native-languages.org/legends-coyote.htm

This poem came after my personal sighting of a coyote one morning.

Spirit Coyote

Larada Horner

September 20, 2000

One velvety quiet dawn

I see you and my heart knows.

We know each other deeply,        

beyond time and space.

                        Where did we first meet?

On the prairies in southeastern Colorado?

Your eyes haunt me

            following my every step.

Your home, a sacred Indian burial ground,

separated from the world by a chain link fence.

Ancient ones honored!

I walk by daily on the outside—

you and them today on the inside.

Are you coyote?  Are you spirit?  I can’t be sure!

            This is Albuquerque,

                        The city

                                    People everywhere.

I question as you mesmerize me.

            You turn away from me, and        

                        I recognize your lean frame.

You are coyote!

Death has captured them

            and you, too.

Are you captured?

Are you free?

You follow my action,

            you sneak towards me.

I gulp worried you will charge,

            but your movement stops towards me.

Now you progress with me, alongside me.

I feel comfortable in your presence–

            no fear,

            a companion that knows my heart.

You rise up on a small mound

            then you’re gone—gone forever!

A chain link fence separates us.

            You locked in with the dead

                        me alive outside,

                        walking free,

            yet skirting you and death everyday.

At times, I hear the chains in the fence rattle in the breeze,

            yet I know it’s not the breeze–

                        the sound is too severe.

            I know it’s spirits, like you caught in that place,

                        that place between the unknown,

                                    a place I know so well!

We are one; I see it!

Death, spirit coyote and me

            roaming through this life!

Those ancient ones inside me clamor to be

            free, to be put to rest!

Your spirit sought me out

            with a message.

Some Natives see you as the trickster,

            the predator by ranchers.

Others see you as the tourist symbol of the Southwest

            and place a red bandana around your neck.

What a shame!

Your spirit is larger, filling the arroyo

            and canyon of my heart.

You roam free—

            So, take me along!

I yearn to roam free with you,

            to howl at the moon,

                           at my loneliness,

                           at my aloneness,

                           at the other spirits walking my same path.

This surreal experience happened twenty-one years ago, and magic realism took over my poem—wondering about mysterious disappearance of that coyote. So what do you think? Where did it go? (Scroll below & make a comment about this mystery!

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