Canyon Road

A coyote near Biscuit Basin in Yellowstone National Park.Photograph by Neal Herbert/Courtesy of NPS/Flickr.

Driving on black ice—
I braked too hard,
spun into a 360

and then two more.
Like a boom of a sailboat,
the back of the car

slammed a dog.
In the midnight darkness
I got out to find a coyote,

his abdomen torn open.
The canine held my gaze
as I cradled his head,

one palm above his brow
the other on his snout,
and hugged him to my thigh

until the chasm
of his breath closed.
An aloneness,

not loneliness
came from the animal—
yellow flecks inside his eyes

flashed for an instant
before they turned to ice.
I tucked the coyote’s cooling body

under pine brush,
covered it with snow.
Nothing is made less by dying.

Walking the next morning,
in the early fog,
I watched a Cooper’s hawk

fly up and up, above the road
to scan the world for prey,
then spiral down, effortlessly,

as if it were a single feather—
hollow shaft travelling
toward the white frost.