ROSS CHRISTIAN ARVIDSON
About Ross Christian Arvidson
Poem for Coyotes
West of Prisoner's Rock in the Tule Basin,
driving a narrow winding back-road
past alfalfa fields and Hereford cattle,
I pass a fence brace heaped with coyote
carcasses bleaching in the mid-March sun.
I turn around, stop, count them: one, two, three,
four, five, six, seven....twelve
dead coyotes picked clean by the vultures.
Now only the ratty hides and perfect teeth
set in twisted mouths leering at the sky.
I recall a family I lived with in Walla Walla, who
had over thirty coyote pelts nailed
to their barn wall. Good people however
their generosity didn't extend to coyotes.
For the sake of ritual, I say a few words,
which disappear into the clear emptiness.
I continue on my way, beyond the geometry of
quilt-work fields and fences,
to the Clear Lake Hills, and my camp,
where coyotes yip the sun down, and prepare
their dens for the future.
© 2000, Ross Christian Arvidson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.
About Ross Christian Arvidson:
Ross' mother, Denise Arvidson, wrote:
Most of Ross' adult life was spent working for the U.S. Forest Service in varying capacities. These ranged from Trail Crewmember, Firefighter, Fire Lookout, and Back Country Ranger. He developed a special affinity for horses, and also worked as a farrier. Ross loved literature, poetry, and music. Wherever he wandered his pickup truck was always loaded with books and his trusty guitar. He died in an auto accident while working in Big Bend National Park, Texas, in 2002. He was thirty-three years old.
Ross left a sizable collection of letters to friends and family, poetry, and journalings. His letters and journal depict the different terrains in which he worked and traveled, often giving insight to the landscape, history, and geography of those areas. Songs for Coyotes is a chronicle of his journaling's in 1994 when he traveled across the American West, and includes a sprinkling of his poetry. It was published after his death.
Songs for Coyotes is available for $8.00 postpaid from: Chrysalis Publications, P.O. Box 230896, Portland, OR 97281-0896
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