in my dreams
i heard the coyote howling
its long, mournful wail
that trailed through the dark
as though it had lost a thing
as though it had lost its pack
one, long howl
over and over and over

you know a coyote
from every other animal
when you live in the small places
near the country
away from everything else
you know a coyote

and then i remembered
i was asleep in my hotel
in Winnipeg
thinking
why were there coyotes howling here?
how could they get to this place
away from the others
no family and lost in the great, lit city

this woke me
and still i heard the coyote howling
not far now
like when we camped in the Pembina Valley
and they seemed so close to the tent
you could hear them walking
you could hear them whispering
about what may be inside
i was awake
and still i heard the coyote howling
so i opened my balcony
and stepped naked to the cold beyond
where the wails grew, and grew
for minutes i strained in puzzled wonder
how could a coyote be here
how lost was this soul with sadness
wrung through its heart like blood

it felt like forever before i knew
this was a woman howling
no coyote here but a broken lady
somewhere off just out of site
and so i called the police on my phone

“i thought i heard a coyote but its a woman
i could hear her across from the Holiday Tower
she is like a coyote piercing my walls”

“sir can you tell if she is in trouble”

“shes screaming and screaming and screaming
i can hear her through my walls”

“we’ll send a car” – calm, bored.

and then she asked me somewhat bemused –

“sir where are you from?”

as if they don’t have coyotes in the city
where i am from
as if they don’t have lonely, sad, howling coyotes
where i am from
i know what the coyote song sounds like

so i left her howling nine floors down
and i stepped back into my warm room at the Delta
and climbed back into my soft bed at the Delta
closing the balcony doors on the sounds
and i was sad for the coyote woman
who stopped her howling soon
i was sad because coyotes never howl alone
i was sad because maybe she cried out for the others
that no longer ran with her
that somehow she was lost and angry
so she shattered the night and waited
and i waited also…wanting with her to hear that response
and sometimes i thought i could
i thought maybe off and a long way away
another great howl searched her out, calling her back
back to safety, back to family, back to the chorus
and away from the soliloquay she rained down
from the parking lot across from the Holiday Tower

i didn’t know
i didn’t know the coyotes howled at night
in streets of downtown Winnipeg
howled till you needed to write her down
howled till you wanted to cry and cry and cry
and howl alongside her
at loss and the world’s end