by John Brantingham
Strange to see a coyote playing
because you don’t think of them
that way any more than you think
of a rat or a possum joyful,
but he was down by the stream
shaking the wet cloth in his mouth,
splashing himself and the river boulders,
and he would have been laughing
if he could. The game was an imitation
of the kill, but that’s the way
the young practice being old,
the water spraying like blood.
Or maybe it’s the other way around,
the old remember childhood
by making our games real.
And the coyote lost in the thoughts
of youth dropped the cloth
and watched it for that
long moment because he had so much
of his life ahead of him he could just let
time pool around his heels.
John Brantingham’s books include the poetry collection The Green of Sunset, the short story collection Let Us All Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods, and the crime novel Mann of War. He has published hundreds of poems in magazines in the United States and England, and his work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.