“Coyote is always out there waiting, and Coyote is always hungry.” — Navajo Saying
Dusk cedes slowly into violet night. A crow flies across a near full moon. Coyote comes down from the foothills wearing masks.
I met her in a letter. Jewish Family Services wrote in response to my request. “We are barred by law from giving you identifying information concerning your birth parents.” Buried within the third paragraph was this: “Sixteen months after your adoption, your parents adopted a baby girl, Lisa.” She was formless, this sister. My adoption was an accepted fact, predating memory. But she was to be my sister, a baby who would grow into my reflection. But she came and left in half a line of a letter, a quickly fading echo.
Sitting in the cramped office, the caseworker, hair backlit through the window, the gray-blue of a half clouded summer sky, rested wattled arms on a stack of files. “About your sister I know almost nothing. Your father died when she was four months. We had no choice but to take her back. We placed her immediately with a new family and lost touch.”
I am a watcher of name tags. I search for Lisas, estimate ages. I have no pictures. Mother burned them when they took Lisa away. I still recall the smell when she threw the baby blanket into the fireplace. I remember now how the smoke choked the room. We fled the house. She never mentioned Lisa.
Coyote is two fiery gems across the mesa. Coyote wears the mask of a caseworker. Coyote comes down from the foothills and steals a small child. Coyote’s bray is mocking.