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Coyote, with Mange

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Oh, Unreadable One, why   
have you done this to your dumb creature?   
Why have you chosen to punish the coyote   

rummaging for chicken bones in the dung heap,   
shucked the fur from his tail   
and fashioned it into a scabby cane?   

Why have you denuded his face,   
tufted it, so that when he turns he looks   
like a slow child unhinging his face in a smile?   

The coyote shambles, crow-hops, keeps his head low,   
and without fur, his now visible pizzle   
is a sad red protuberance,   

his hind legs the backward image   
of a bandy-legged grandfather, stripped.   
Why have you unhoused this wretch   

from his one aesthetic virtue,   
taken from him that which kept him   
from burning in the sun like a man?   

Why have you pushed him from his world into mine,   
stopped him there and turned his ear   
toward my warning shout?

Source: Poetry (March 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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Coyote, with Mange

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