Coyotes whimpered and yelped themselves into a fevered, barking knot in the dark not 100 yards away as I stood with our dog in the back yard. She was sniffing around to pee, but came to full attention, hackles and ears raised, her body locked-up as tight as a good hound on a bird. Full moon, cloudless sky, stars beyond the reaching, knotted silhouettes of trees. I realized I was holding my breath and exhaled into the tenuous pause between me and the dog and the coyotes — my breath a gauzy, sluggishly tumbling body, like grenadine poured into clear liquor, finding its random way, carrying the white of the moon. We listened for a few minutes till the knot untangled itself, leaving the thickening echo of silence. The dog looked up at me bright-eyed as if to say, did you hear that?!, snuff-sneezed once to clear her nose, finished her business and started for the back door.
This morning an intricate and careless strata of clouds carried the orange, orange-yellow-red of sunrise. Its light reaching into the woods behind the house, beyond the yard, illuminating the trees standing as they do in their huddled, winter-gray way this time of year. Coffee in hand, the dog and I were back in the yard, both looking in the direction of last nights’ noisy chorus. I knew that the coyotes had denned and that all we’d see is birds and the squirrels that were already busy ransacking the undergrowth. I told her to finish her business as I started for the back door, but she kept her eyes on the woods. And while she worked her nose in the slight breeze, not knowing what she was looking for but that it’d likely be easier to identify in the daylight, I glanced back up into the sky beyond the trees to where the moon was last night, just as hopeful that it would be right where I left it.