Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Loren Eiseley: Coyote Country


If you should go, soft-footed and  alert,
Down the long slope of shale
Into a tumbled land of scarp and butte
Beyond the pale
Of the herding men, where water is under stone,
You would be in coyote country.  It is the place
Where tumbleweed is blown
Four ways at once, and your neighbors are not seen
Except as loping shapes
Or tangible dust.
Once, if you're lucky, something may pause and lift
One paw and two grey ears
In a moment's trust
That is gone like wind.

Coyote PhotoThis is the road.  Go down
Over the harsh way.  If you dare, go down
Into the waste, where lonely and apart
The road runs north.  Somewhere here is my heart,
If anywhere, I spy
Nothing at all--and you in turn may try
The thistle and subtle stones,
Or you may go
Southward tonight--be certain you will not know
More of  me than is found
In two poised ears
Or feet gone without sound.
-- Loren Eiseley --
All the Night Wings

I don't know where Loren Eiseley spent most of his time--out in the field or behind a desk or in a classroom--but I think I know where his heart was. 


  1. Sounds like Arizona alright, Fred. Thanks for posting this, I really enjoyed it. I saw a lot of coyotes when I lived out west. The one special memory I have is of a coyote digging in our burn barrel (which wasn't all that far from the house) and making off with the turkey carcass. After that I just threw them over the fence.

  2. madamevauquer,

    For which I'm sure the coyotes were very thankful. I still see them now and then whenever I leave Tucson--just a glimpse now and then along side the road or trotting quickly across the road ahead of me.

  3. Fred, this is a bit "off topic," so I hope you do not mind the detour. The coyote has become one of the most interesting wildlife stories. No longer a western/southwestern creature, the opportunistic predator has expanded into previously coyote-free habitats. For example, the coyote is a growing nuisance in the Gulf coast region (Mississippi/Alabama/Florida). Unlike their wolf-cousins, coyotes are everywhere! Perhaps Eisley's romanticized notion would be adjusted if he knew of the 2015 realities.

  4. RTD,

    I doubt that he would change his "romanticized notion" because in one of his books, he mentioned the expansion of their habitats. He attributed it to the killing off of the wolf by humans. Wolves were the coyotes' greatest threat, even greater than humans.

    And I too am aware of the spread of the coyote and haven't lost my "romanticized notion." I still get a thrill when I get a glimpse of one slipping through the underbrush or trotting across the highway in front of me.

    As for being a "nuisance," well I read the headlines and hear the news and find humans to be far more of a "nuisance," in fact nothing short of a catastrophe to this planet, and whose existence is much more disastrous than any coyote could ever be.