elegy before turning older

You aren't the same kind of coyote that always left me alone in the heat of the road, in the place where the railroad tracks run faster than the freeways, leaving me to figure out the meanings of the marks in the ground where you decided to disappear.  You're not the same kind of coyote that goes away without leaving marks, your marks still speak, and I can see the places where you are still speaking through them, and if I had my wits I would find out how to put those sounds in a mason jar, and bring them into my bed when the nights are hot.  You're not the kind of coyote to leave me without warning, so I'm left spending the months digging through the laundry to find the last thing you touched so that I might remember your smell.  Because on some nights, your smell is everywhere.  And on some nights, I might even remember that we love each other.

It's a harder bone then that's lodged in my skin, it cuts through my lip and collects the heat of the day and starts to burn whenever the melancholy dogs come calling.  And you know how they come calling, relentless and hungry and make it impossible to say no, they lure their own way into the yard, past the porch and through the door, and sometimes they make it under the sheets where they sing sweet songs.  I'm always waking up at three in the morning, when the sweetness has taken back its power, and I recognize that they are not you, and never will be. 

No one knew the layout of this landscape like you did, no one could wander as recklessly as you did through the desolation and find things to adore, and faces to fall in love with, when the rest of them could only recognize their own shadows.  And even though it left its scars on you, its fingernails on your back and its thorns on the side of your head, you might not know that you leave marks on it, the body of this mother is covered with your love bites.  Everywhere you touched, I see traces that are born in love, and your traces make me forget how to wander, because I can't tell myself any more that I don't know where I am, and I don't know where I'm going, because this plays over me like stars fall over me, and they know where I am supposed to be.

And I do think you know, like I know, how it is when you are paying attention to the ground as if it were filled with bones of ancestors, that when the heat turns impossible and every living thing starts to know the place as a dry and dead thing, that if you are paying attention to your body as if it were filled with the bones of ancestors, the mouth starts to fill with blood.  When our lips have gone dry and start to turn to dust, and there's no water in the body left to speak the things we want to say, the mouth starts to fill with blood.  That's something only the oldest souls know, the ones who have been through this before, and know what it is to find something and lose something, and that it comes back to life, born in the mouth, at that moment when the rest of the desert has given up on birth and is running on reflexes for survival. 

Maybe our reflexes for survival are not as strong as the others, or perhaps we know something they don't know, and never will.  This is how to get life out of these things that are dry to cracking, it takes an ability to stand the heat of the sun and the relentlessness of the scavenging dogs, joining their direction without becoming a member of the pack.  It takes a willingness to shift shapes at the very last second, without losing the connection to the blood, and blood is strong, and blood is also very patient, and it tells our mouths what to speak before we know what we're thinking.  And it tells me that I haven't lost my teeth for fighting, and I've been keeping my muscles tight for a very good reason.  And it tells me that I know the way, that there are too many layers of dead branches and burnt leaves to see from a distance, but that in the heat of the day when my mouth is filling up again, that underneath this, buried deeply within its womb, there's a heartbeat that tells me that you're not gone and lost forever.

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