To live on Saddleback Mountain is to live with coyotes close up, but last night we lived especially close up. Mostly when we hear coyotes they’re in packs at some distance, usually higher up on the mountain, and thus we tend to hear their calls like we hear the rain. But last night at about 11, one lone coyote passed, and he was directly outside our east-side windows. When he called he didn’t bark or yap or howl. He shrieked. That’s the best word to describe it. I first tried to see him from inside the house, and then I slipped out the back and tried to see him. I never saw him. But he called again and again and it was always piercing. He was somewhere near Quetzal’s swing, he was below the garden, a minute or so later he was near where I recently cut bean poles, his calls echoing across the land and fully inside my head. They seemed to lift straight up and then roll across the tops of the trees and down to the valley below. When I clapped and banged with a board just to see what would happen, nothing happened. He was still out there, by now near my neighbor’s sugar house, and he wasn’t slowing or speeding up or in any way changing his ways. He was wild and staying wild and now was the time for shrieking. At the time I didn’t think about it, but today I see his method to be an excellent life witness. Call, move on, pause, call. Shriek if you must. If you have something to tell the world and it’s born of your soul, tell them. Tell them so they hear you.
A Life of the Hand: Images