Poem Where I Almost Hit a Coyote

by Ariane Sandford


I almost hit a coyote on the drive back from the hospital
where my friend who’d just had a baby held the tiny thing near her mouth while it
made whimpering animal noises
her first baby since the last strangled itself in utero

I almost hit a coyote, I thought as I almost hit a coyote, jammed my right foot on the
brakes, outline of its ears limned against darkening sky and the haze of airport lights

I almost hit a coyote on October 23, 2015, while the sky was darkening and the cells of
my friend’s dead baby swam in her bloodstream still, finding permanent residence in
her lungs, thyroid, muscle, liver, heart, kidneys, skin, and brain

I almost hit a coyote who was probably heading home for the night, maybe after
finishing a delicate meal of mouse and blood soup, and if I had a home in the body I
would hope to do better than the brain
that mouse-gray noodle farm we dissected once for biology class in high school
where the teacher in her lonely British accent told us that it was the brain of an
alcoholic female
and the brain just lay there, flat and neat and quiet
though I don’t remember how she knew that

I almost hit a coyote on the way back from the hospital, while my friend pretended to
love her living baby as much as her dead one, and the ghost cells of her dead baby
whispered in her ear that it was part coyote, and moon, tall northern pine, and trout
breaching lake water at dawn.

Ariane was born in Barbados and grew up in Germany, South Africa, and Washington, D.C. She now lives and works in the lovely city of lakes, Minneapolis. Recent poems have appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Bop Dead City, and Paper Nautilus.