Coyote wakes me up at 2 a.m.
He taps his paw against my shoulder blade—
he’s never looked this old before.
He turns away when I pull on my shorts.
there’s the shadow of his back against the wall,
the ash of my white feet.
We start walking
with our faces lifted up.
Coyote says our friend has thrown herself
from her mother’s van. She is dying. She will be dead.
I think she must have turned herself
into a kind of bird, a yellow one, extended
tiny linnet wings to swim,
to stretch their sleek pale length toward something dashed
along the swinging curb, the endless curve
of sky that dangled past the swept horizon.
She must have seen her own shape, muscled, flexed,
the body paused in arc as if a hex
were placed there, paused the car’s shock and jerk-swerve.
She would have seen the whole world turning just
beneath her elbow. There were her fingernails
mooning white at the ends of her fingers
she hadn’t known could be so long. This girl,
dark hair a curtain wind-dashed back
to cover scabbed Cape Hatteras.
Coyote doesn’t touch me. He points
to a fist-sized squid rolling in the water.
Out there, just past the charcoaled pier
the sky and water shade into themselves.
No moon. No milk of cloud.
She must have heard her bones hit road, the click
of femur snapped. She would have seen the flare
of pavement, sky, to pavement. Flare of white
that scored itself into her cheek, arm, thigh.
She leapt. She left
us walking Hatteras.
This is how we take the news.
Another few hours, and we’ll see the sunrise lighting
up the water and that will be the end.
Abby Chew spent a good many years in the Midwest but didn’t find a second dog until she moved to California, where she currently teaches English at Crossroads School. Her first book of poems, Discontinued Township Roads, is available where books are sold.