Funny thing. Was thinking of them.
Thinking of coyotes, anyway.
The young one there,
standing in the snow filled ditch,
just confirmed my musings.
Had to drive to Moose Jaw.
To the saddlery repair shop.
Gary came along with me,
and by Buffalo Pound,
pointed out one to me.
That handsome, wild dog trotted,
in a field alongside the road.
He looked prosperous, fit.
His coat, appearance, lush.
His mien, his bearing, aloof.
My mother would recall,
all the years down east,
as a young girl,
her rest never adjusted to,
the absence of wild singing.
On returning to the plains,
to longed for Stone Bluff Farm,
rest came again. The song.
The prairie wolves’ song,
that was in her blood stream.
An old cowboy relation of mine,
we saw one by Pasqua Lake.
“I shot, trapped, Hell, so damned many.”
“More in common with them,” he said,
“Than all these damned.., people.”
“I guess we’re both out of place.”
He smiled, looking far away.
“I always loved their singing.
Sleeping under the stars.
My horse’s breath. Them howling. Perfect.”
Coming home down the dark trail,
Luna barely a crescent.
As though,glancing from a lit room,
from behind a door, a’crack
into a colossal, black hallway.
His eyes shone back at my lights.
He didn’t move though. Didn’t run.
Laid down when I stopped.
He glanced into the pasture,
then back at me and across the road.
He was young enough, I believe,
to still be with his mother.
Was she hidden in the pasture?
Watching her pup and my truck,
from a safe, dark tangle of willow?
The youngster went on his way.
Ambled slowly in front of me.
His gaze, though calm, was intent.
His tireless dog trot took him,
away into the peace of night.
I fear more their absence.
Most fear their presence.
That fine, handsome stranger,
however corporeal he was,
was also a meld of aim and goal.
There is outright panic at times.
In the news. Chatter radio.
A coyote on some street.
In a new dump of housing.
Encroachers, invaders, that we are.
What should we expect?
© George Grassick
Singing in the rain? A coyote on the Northeast Swale enjoys a rare rain storm this spring. Photo © Muhammad Zain Ul Abideen, Northeast Swale Nature
Did you know ..
Coyotes are so adaptable that they have made themselves at home in cities across the continent. In Saskatoon, they prefer to live toward the margins of the city, in places like the Northeast and Small Swales. Red foxes are the most common canids (wild dogs) in more intensely urbanized parts of town.
Author: George Grassick
The plains are an ever-present catalyst for much of George’s poetry, other writings and performing. Much of his work also grows out of the alliance formed when his pioneer forebears were taken under the wing of the original inhabitants of the land. This critical relationship gave them their foothold in the new land, and a gift of Cree mares formed the root stock of their horse ranch built on the Roughbark Creek.
George and his late wife, Patti, gave over the majority of their quarter section of native prairie near Last Mountain Lake to protect and be a haven for all the life dependent on wild places. They did so as a legacy to his family’s debt, and the debt all new comers owe to the original inhabitants of this land.
George is the Keeper of the headdress given to his grandfather, James Grassick, by the Piapot First Nation along with the name Chief Strong Heart.
George has written and performed in Fringe Festival plays in Regina and Saskatoon.
Along with other poems, stage plays and screenplays, he is presently compiling a collection of poems that center on his late wife with thoughts of developing it into a live presentation to raise funds for breast cancer research and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.