Coyote Fur, Coyote Bones
I am a Coyote Girl. It was a lover who first told me so. He could see what I was as plain as day. I laughed in his face at the time, unable, perhaps more than a bit unwilling, to fathom the mere thought. Me, the honest one, the stable one, the mature one, a Coyote? I was somehow a personification of the Trickster, the spirit of chaos?
But no, he insisted, Coyote and his children are more than that. Not simple chaos, and certainly not its source, but the adaptability that shows itself best on shifting ground. Not just the Trickster, but a laugh of knowing amusement, a sly grin, and a lesson learned with a half-playful cuff on the snout.
I am a child of Coyote, a daughter he sired off on a wild prairie rose. I learned to run with the drumming of a Chinook wind in my ears, and the scent of grassfires a warning in my nose. To be a Coyote is to be of the sage and the sweetgrass, of the den and the trail. It is the ability to make the best of bad circumstances, to persevere, to change when one needs to change and build anew when everything around you turns to ash. It is howling out into the night to find your fellows, and doubling down when those fellows are few and far between. It is to speak with smirking lips and dancing eyes, to find amusement in the smallest thing, to take nothing so seriously that its weight may crush you. It is a snort in the face of austerity, a song in the place of silence.
But there is another side to being a Coyote, a side that runs deeper than our soot-and-cinders Coyote fur, a side that is rooted deep, deep down in the marrow of our Coyote bones. It is the opposite and equal of our adaptability: the overwhelming will to survive, an absolutely cutthroat sense of self-preservation. For what else could adaptability be born from but the need to live?
It is the urge to run at the first sign of danger, a soot-and-cinders tail disappearing over the next rise in an endless, tireless lope. It is flashing eyes that never look back once they have chosen to turn away. It is a smirk that turns to a snarl and teeth that snap a warning – stay back, don’t come too close, too far! It is a cunning mind that might – might – forgive but will certainly never forget a transgression, a threat, a trespass. To be a Coyote is to be willing to let it all burn away to nothing because you see that something is no longer healthy; when it is easy to rebuild, to start over, then it is easy to accept a need to set the fires yourself. It is being called “bitch” when you protect yourself, when you show the less palatable facets of your nature, and not flinching at the word. It is not an insult. I am not a dog and I do not stay just because you tell me I should.
I am a Coyote, wild and wary, and my rosy heart withers to thorns every time I realize that someone only ever expects me to just adapt to hardships they keep creating. They are always so hurt when I choose to run from the weight of their expectations, and I… I never feel bad for hurting them when I run.
I told them from the start what I was.