Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Simon J. Ortiz: The Boy and Coyote

The Boy and Coyote

for a friend, Ed Theis, met at VAH
Fort Lyons, Colorado, November
and December 1974

You can see the rippled sand rifts
shallow inches below the surface.
I walk on the alkalied sand. 
Willows crowd the edges of sand banks
sloping to the Arkansas River.

I get lonesome for the young aftenoons
of a boy growing at Acoma.
He listens to the river,
the slightest nuance of sound.

Breaking thin ice from a small still pool,
I find Coyote's footprints.
Coyote, he's always somewhere before you;
he knows you'll  come along soon.
I smile at his tracks when are not fresh
except in memory and say a brief prayer
for good luck for him and for me and thanks.

All of a sudden, and not far away,
there are the reports of a shotgun,
muffled flat by saltcedar thickets.
Everything halts for several moments,
no sound, even the wind holds to itself.
The animal in me crouches, poised immobile,
eyes trained on the distance, waiting
for motion again.  The sky is wide;
blue is depthless; and the animal
and I wait for breaks in the horizon.

Coyote's preference is for silence
broken only by the subtle wind,
uncanny bird sounds, saltcedar scraping,
and the desire to let that man free,
to listen for the motion of sound.

 -- Simon J. Ortiz --
from Woven Stone

A quiet moment of reflection for a man and recollection of a similar moment as a child.  I remember times when I've been out hiking and hearing a gun shot and the sudden silence that follows.  Like Ortiz, I, too, crouched and waited, waited for what I don't know, but waited for something.  Something was out there that was inimical to life--killing because killing was fun. 

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