Wednesday, January 9, 2013


At night, I listen to coyotes. I can feel them coming closer. As winter wears on, they are drawn inward to our little patch of civilization in their wide wilderness. The other night as I fed the horses, I could hear their cries. They sounded so close, I was surprised I couldn't see them. The dog ran back and forth at the edge of the horse pen, barking. His warnings made no difference. The coyotes called anyway. Have you ever heard them? Do you know that strange cry? It almost sounds like children screaming. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

And when I returned to my house, the dog suddenly took off barking up the road. In the moonlight and shadows, I couldn't see where he was headed, until his barks turned to whines and I saw him running back towards me. Something followed him, but stopped dead in its tracks when I stepped out onto the road. It had silvery fur and crouched low to the ground. The dog paced back and forth in front of me, barking.

This is not the first time I have seen one. This fall, I encountered one while out riding my horse. The coyote stood in the middle of the road through our back pasture and stared at me. I was confident that he would be scared off by my presence, but he didn't move. Finally, unnerved by his steady patience and unblinking stare, I turned to leave. When I looked back over my shoulder, he was standing right where I'd left him, watching me. Waiting for me to leave.

This morning I wrote a hasty, ill-constructed poem about these creatures I find myself sharing my home with. I have been thinking a lot about them. About their society. How a group of wild dogs might act. Do they understand the barking of the dog when he warns them to stay away? Do they recognize him as one of their own, just with different fur and a deeper voice? How close will they come?

Sometimes I stand on the deck of my house and listen to them calling to each other in the night and I wonder what their voices mean. Why do they sing together? I stare into the dark tree line where the crying comes from. I never see them there.

I hope this poem will turn into something better.



sometimes i think it’s just you and me out here
mostly when your cries sound like children
somewhere close by    and desperate


i stand at the edge of a wilderness and look for you
but you are much too clever to be seen
are you scared?    or are you sure of things?

on the road where we met: you stared   
unmoving    until i moved first
i know you watched until i was out of sight

and i must never take for granted the patience of a wild thing.


  1. It takes guts to post an "unfinished work." Sometimes, a writer embraces self-criticism too much and ends up never writing anything.
    I took the liberty to play with your prose just a little bit.


    I think it's just you and me, out here

    When your cries pierce the cold night air
    sounds, like whimpering children
    somewhere close by, desperate, hungry


    I stand, looking for you
    at the edge of the wilderness
    but you won't be seen
    much too clever or are you afraid
    unsure of things hidden
    in darkened shadows of a moonlit night


    On the road where we first met
    when you stared, motionless, waiting
    until I moved first, waiting
    and watching until I was out of your sight

    I must never take for granted the patience of a wild thing.

  2. Hi Deanna. I'm glad I've found your blog. Beautiful words. I've never heard or seen a coyote, but your words transported me from a hot summer afternoon to a moonlit roadway in Canada. Thanks.