April 28, 2013

North Cairn: The end of the road for a coyote

(Continued from page 1)

I stared at her young, strong limbs, the taut appearance of her body, both revealing that the place death struck was the prime of her life, an attainment now meaningless and missing, except that it fell on my mind and bled into my mood, bringing a self-indulgent grieving that she was gone.

You don't forget it when you kill an animal, especially one from your own class, a mammal, whose physical form is not entirely foreign and whose ways seem oddly like your own -- warm-blooded and wily, hunters and killers, living to mate and reproduce, rearing young and in time letting them go.

Thus, invariably, I met myself in the roadway and felt the human emotion that separates us from the canids -- guilt, remorse, regret and marvel. It was an accident and poor timing that had made us both refugees of a terrible moment in the dark, the coyote and me. But it also had fueled the possibility -- for me -- of standing an arm's length away, in awe of an animal, typically bold, that is ordinarily too smart and stealthy to come so near, except to serve its own opportunistic ends.

For a lonely moment, I felt I had slaughtered one of my own.

But I had my own lair to reach, and another canine waiting, and the small details of my own existence to attend to in that part of life's median that I occupy till instinct or obligation makes me move. The admiration for a distant acquaintance and serving as instrument and witness to its end were the best I could do in my weary sadness at the far edge of the evening.

I went home.

The coyote was carried elsewhere, bound up in the natural rule of its ecosystem -- carrion birds and bugs that would feed on it, maggots that would help strip it down further, to bone.

The body was still there the next day, but someone or something had dragged it out of the passing lane and left it at the boundary of wild briar and scrub from which it had tried to travel the night before.

What can you say to death except "life goes on"? And how is it that affirmation can so easily be turned on itself, a cruel sentence because of its cost?

I have run out of easy answers, one more attribute to wed my fate with the coyote that miscalculated and paid a precious price -- a swift end.

The quick and the dead we are, here together, denying the mortality that brings the balance we require to endure. There is order more authoritative than human invention or the agility of a dominant animal. It is waiting in the dark just around the bend.

North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

ncairn@pressherald.com

 

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