TRICKSTER

“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.

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