Winter Songs

Two coyotes. Full winter coats puffed out. Follow their morning run
through the back alleys and train tracks under generations of graffiti
and abandoned murals of 80s sports stars. The discarded shells of
burned-out and abandoned land-value-only buildings stand watch over
their paw prints left in snow not yet spoiled. Somewhere above, mag-
pies announce their arrival into the territory. Angels welcoming gods
of a city gone back to the land through trumpet fare, and the remnants
of an “O Canada” anthem playing on endless repeat from abandoned

Two coyotes walk back 150 years to a time before skyscrapers and
suburbs—man-made lakes, dams, bridges and power plants—and
dig up the bones of ancestors laid along the riverbanks. Watch them
rise up to dismantle the structures placed on top of quarter sections
that divided a country. They spool back barbed wire and let the bison
pound the houses into kindling for their winter fires. Marble legisla-
ture pillars crushed under the weight of an elk skull. A coyote’s god
lives in bones.

Conor Kerr, “Winter Songs” from Old Gods. Copyright © 2023 by Conor Kerr. Reprinted with the permission of Nightwood Editions. All rights reserved.