Walking outside in late March, twenty twenty. The air was astonishing with the scent of blossoming trees and once, strangely, a great span of suntan lotion. I had the idea that I was fully smelling another human. Without cars the colors of a human’s skin were rising into the air and taking up a great big space, like the green and blue of a very beautiful marsh from above.
Down the neighborhood hill to the place where land gets flat, by the ranch house which is some kind of old folks’ home, untrustworthy. I heard a drumming. Up the joining street, an animal, whose feet I could hear over my podcast. It was coming toward me at great horselike speed, horselike in its four-legged curl off the street. A dream-thought, an interpretation of signs rather than a reading: I thought I was looking at a fox, and then I thought it was a dog. It was a coyote. Its head was afraid.
I lifted my phone in my hand, as if I could possibly be quick enough to take a photo. Its coat was like the lovely scrub growing in disordered patches on a hill, Bowie-colored, clean and tall. Coarse like scrub coming to height at different speeds, or like prairie grass rolling variously, spotted unevely with red sun. Straight kitsune ears, mouth open a little like a human pressing his tongue between his teeth. It looked at me like a runner with sweat in his eyes. He didn’t expect any of us to be here.
He swerved like a cyclist when I raised my hand. A smooth, heavy turn. He was so much quicker than me that he could access a longer line of micro decisions than I could, and so in his high anxiety he moved gracefully. A nurse on the apron of the old folks’ place, purple plastic gloves at the hips, head turning to watch the coyote. The air of dim irritation that the nurses always have on their smoke breaks under the car shelter in the driveway at that place.
The coyote moved up the hill light as a spider. I thought, the coyotes I have seen have never been coyotes. They have been degraded by the City. This was a beautiful animal with a head of will in front of him, like the face of the lion costume around the front lion dancer. Up the hill past a green van driving. Psychologically conversant, like a dog. Person-al. Adult like a horse. In a bow past me like a pelaton, when I raised my arm. After a week with our doors shut he had gotten used to us gone.