In the culvert beside the highway
the she-coyote whelped four at the first
warm desert moon.
Three were strong -- tiny images
of her mate.
The last -- born
In the exhaustion of birthing --
was a pale likeness of herself.
Unable to fight for milk
it faltered on the second day,
sung in the middle night --
one voice wailed primal loss
and three others followed in unknowing unison.
From the first day he could move
The Explorer, strongest of the litter,
from the den's security.
Time after time Mother
had to save him from himself.
This time there would be
for the wayward child. His body,
twitching, lay within the metal jaws
she could not fight --
once again she sang of loss
and went her way.
Another died in June --
too young it had not yet learned
to fear passing light.
Urged to forage,
the he-cub pounced
on the rabbit carcass and dragged
the cotton-tail, large as he, almost to the road
when headlights deliberately
leaving now two creatures
beside the highway,
food for yet other predators --
never found --
never mourned --
Only one remained
and it was time to drive
him from the nest.
She needed to resume
the cycle of her destiny --
at his vanishing into the scrub