This coyote morning in the city woods
As raw coastal fog shoves summer offshore
Ragged shapes hurry through the grey,
Nosing out warm air pockets
Scouting for moving edibles
The young green of false spring long gone
Replaced by khaki hills, feint gold at sunset.
I remember Eastern summer green
Emerald, lit with thunder and wet heat
Never more than at sixteen, on my own,
Watching the family wagon’s brake lights blink,
As it turned through drifts of stippling shade
And my brother stretched out the window
for a final wave-
In my sudden freedom.
I saw you through a clutch of veterans unloading cars,
Waving, bouncing into greetings
With last year’s friends;
While we green rookies read others’ careful approaches,
leaned into twos and threes
Camp counselors all
Awash in an idyll soon to be brimmed with kids
Most matching your skin, not mine.
You and I traced the backwoods that night
And later, turning from our low-toned talk
to detail my face
Your words were those of an artist
You too had seen me
From the first
The night’s soft buzz, rife with fireflies, laughter,
Guitar notes lifting from a porch downhill
Layered scents of wood and pristine cabins
All hinted at a deeper green,
Of the flush ripeness to come
And I swallowed summer whole.
Coyotes may move among those trees now,
Emerging to the crisp dusk of late fall’s gold
Or searching for new life in the callow spring
When nascent green shows itself again.
They won’t come for summer.
Like us, they will have migrated,
Settling elsewhere for cooler climes.
Your windowpanes were slurred finger paint
in the half light,
And the rain splicing the air with lightning drills
Gave us a pass
To stay in and ignite the dark
That morning the teapot
Screeched and blew
And boiled itself near dry,
While we were busy
Not overlooking anything.
Later, emerging to mid-summer’s emerald,
Stretching muscles reluctantly freed;
I could still feel my mouth bringing you back
From wherever your eyes had gone
Like a man who’d slipped out for cigarettes
And never returned.
I was the one who would leave.
And now, over this curve of hill
The bay’s mouth spills through the eucalyptus trees,
Their avid leaves applaud the damp rush of thunder
And I am ambushed by your absence,
By memories of the lush aftermath
of a morning storm.
A New York native, Ann relocated 40 years ago to San Francisco for doctoral study in disability. Research and inclusive schooling were themes of prior publications. Now a Professor Emerita, she has more time to read and write poetry at last. Poems have appeared in Broken City, Writers’ Café Magazine, The Road Not Taken, and Poetry Quarterly. Where There’s Fire appeared this Spring in the anthology After/Ashes (Wordspring Press) on the devastating 2018 Camp Fire, in Paradise, California.