California Morning

Under a hot white August sky
I was sitting on my new sister-in-law’s deck
looking out over a ravine
savoring my first cup of coffee
and three hours time difference
calling what I was doing “meditating”
which meant that nobody would bother me
when a coyote appeared
ambling up a path out of the ravine
in my general direction.

A rabbit popped out of the brush between us
saw the coyote
nothing between them but fast lane
froze into his clump of brown grass imitation.

Coyote stopped too although he gave

no indication he had seen the rabbit.
No it was some rare quality in
the morning air he stayed to savor.

Over the next ten minutes coyote got interested
in creatures and events invisible to me
at every compass point except the rabbit’s
took maybe a dozen steps
none of them actually toward his
motionless potential breakfast special
yet each oblique step
narrowing the distance between them
by a margin discernible only
to an old geometry teacher

till suddenly
on no trigger I could see
maybe just some natural version
of a three-second violation—
it ain’t that you’re too close
but it’s been too long
since you been far enough away—

breakfast beat a fast break
back into the brush
and coyote
never a look after him

resumed his stroll
as if knowing all along

it was too much to hope for

but hey

it’s a numbers game
and sometimes
after all the indirection
just often enough to keep you coming back
you do nail something just right.
I lifted my cup in toast to a poet.