Coyote sings us into presence and then laughs his ass off. Sings us into the soul of winter, into resistance, into euphoria. He knows he’s just a moon-illuminated rumor, dog with no name, knows he’s as much a mnemonic device as peyote is a serial killer.
Tufts of stubborn snow feathered against the old walls may last, surviving in shadow, until spring. Domesticated after a fashion by ancestral Puebloans, coyote skulked up to their remote winter fires in Chaco, sat alert at the frost’s edge of the darkness and flickering light, only the hot coals of his eyes apparent, only his humor intact. Someone threw him a filthy chunk of venison. Real prey, the next meal, was difficult to track down in January. Fajada Butte cast its long shadow and the People could see their breaths. His tracks disappeared with all the others in the blowing snow. If he listened closely, he could hear music on the most madrigalian of silent nights.
In spring, high on his mortality and gracelessness, rides a revery of scented sage winds and his senses are aged into a knowing: nothing lasts forever. Not pissing contests or bathing in the lazy rincón seeps or humping like a jackrabbit in the rain.
He belongs to nobody.
He knows one day they’ll be so bereft, with nothing but their dry mouths and wood smoke to follow them like curses out of the canyon, they’ll eat him raw. There will be corruption and power struggles among the Clans. Drought and famine will close the 12th century on them like a stone door.
He waits like the Buddha for 200 years for some sign of human returning. Endless drought has wrung most of the moisture out of the air. He searches the outlying ruins, Peňasco Blanco, Kin Kletso, Hungo Pavi and even Chacra Mesa, for food and the long interred secrets of life, and the secrets lay gnawed and frozen just beneath the surface. He swears from a ledge on Chacra Mesa he can see the edge of the earth, it’s at the end of the Great North Road that disappears into the middle of nowhere leaving nothing but deep lonesome space.
Some said it leads to the point of origins. Back to the Creator.
Is nowhere sacred?
His senses turn on each other like starving wolves. His equilibrium vanquished. Alien dust dervishes form on the horizon and remind him how he tried to befriend the People. How he could be companionable, a good storyteller, he could pull the travois. Watch over the kids.
Soon the Navajo would arrive with their hogans and horses. The moon-illuminated rumors of Comanche. They would herd sheep and grow maize within the limited resources and biting winds of Chaco. It’s the Feast of the Epiphany. In less than a month he’ll celebrate Candlemas Day, the return of the light. The coming thaw is now like a prophetic dream, but until then, all echoes are flattened against the slickrock walls by the freezing temperatures, deflated and silenced, hostages. He sleeps surrounded by himself and the abandoned kivas. By the crumbling buildings that were always meant to return to Mother Earth. His dreams are epic and exercise his imagination like action paintings.