Father Coyote

By George Sterling

AT twilight time, when the lamps are lit,
Father coyote comes to sit
At the chaparral's edge, on the mountain side —
Comes to listen and to deride
The rancher's hound and the rancher's son,
The passer-by and everyone.
And we pause at milking-time to hear
His reckless carolling, shrill and clear, —
His terse and swift and valorous troll,
Ribald, rollicking, scornful, droll,
As one might sing in coyotedom:
"Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!"

Yet well I wot there is little ease
Where the turkeys roost in the almond trees,
But mute forebodings, canny and grim,
As they shift and shiver along the limb.
And the dog flings back an answer brief
(Curse o' the honest man on the thief),
And the cat, till now intent to rove,
Stalks to her lair by the kitchen stove;
Not that she fears the rogue on the hill;
But—no mice remain, and—the night is chill.
And now, like a watchman of the skies,
Whose glance to a thousand valleys flies,
The moon glares over the granite ledge —
Pared a slice on its upper edge.

And father coyote waits no more,
Knowing that down on the valley floor,
In a sandy nook all cool and white,
The rabbits play and the rabbits fight,
Flopping, nimble, scurrying,
Careless now with the surge of spring ...
Furry lover, alack! alas!
Skims your fate o'er the moonlit grass!

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