The coyote’s fur is dense brown ombrè
but that doesn’t mean it feigns the dog.
A rescuer’s self-story, its ambitions,
jelly jars filled with beer, indiscriminate
open mouths. Helping engulfs in a series
of novas: lost, the wild scent laid down across
a sheaf of years, for wild isn’t feral,
it meets you as a threat, versus he
remembers the pleasure of your hand
between his ears, your hand scooping food
into a ceramic bowl; also lost,
the suspicion of the pack, how it dilutes
trust among a mustering of paws.
The horizontal width of treacherous
road to cross reorients to a
length of traitor blacktop ending at
a warm den with its soft nests, its
full ceramic bowls, sweet forgetfulness,
a self-sufficiency replaced by
dependence on your bag and scoop. But if
you leave it be, refuse to name it, yellow
eyes dance in the jar of the night like stars.
BARBARA DUFFEY is a 2015 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow in poetry and the author of two poetry collections, most recently Simple Machines (The Word Works, 2016), which won the 2015 Washington Prize. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Western Humanities Review, Blackbird, and elsewhere. An associate professor of English at Dakota Wesleyan University, she lives in Mitchell, SD, with her son and their chinchilla.