Coyote Cry: Nature and Stories

“Cold air / dries her muddy footprints to a path / of hard, open mouths. If she retraces her steps, / the footprints will eat her” (Jones, 23). 

Coyote Cry narrates a man speaking to an unknown person by telling them the story of a woman running through hills. The unnamed woman cannot retrace her footsteps because doing so would obscure her story. Her feet would not fit into the original prints neatly, creating a shapeless and unidentifiable blob. She would lose her story—her footprints—by trying to come back the way she came. These lines seem to urge the reader away from retracing their own footsteps, either literally or metaphorically.  

Along with her footsteps holding a story, nature is also holding her story. Eventually, the footsteps will wash away with the rest of the mud, debris, and grass of the hills. However, she will have forever impacted the story of the hills with her steps. The mud will build over differently if she walks back over her steps, changing the way the world keeps her story. Jones writes, a line later, “Ragged pines snatch her cries and keep them. / That’s why I cry” (23).  

Perhaps Jones is saying that, much like her footsteps in the mud, her cries and steps will later impact the narrator. Despite the narrator never visiting these woods nor knowing if this woman exists outside their imagination, they know that the way nature holds stories will later come back to tell another story. Her cries influence his cries, and her steps may influence his as time goes on.  






2 thoughts on “Coyote Cry: Nature and Stories”

  1. I like how you say that how one’s cry will influence other people. This reminds me somehow of the book “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. As with some similar ideas in this book, if one commits suicide because of sexuality, we should feel bad not only for this person but for the whole society. In this poem, I feel like Jones is saying that when this woman cries, he felt that he experienced all the things that she had and that they are the same person at this time.

  2. This is an interesting take on this poem, and I was inspired to consider your point of view while also considering the first few lines of the poem. This poem begins “Listen to my darkness, my half-eclipsed notes. / Mistake them for the sound of a lonely woman”. This implies that there in no woman, but Jones wishes his cries would be seen as such. You bring up that the woman’s impact is technically fleeting, but overall permanent. In the context of the woman being a metaphor for Jones’s “notes,” I wonder if this poem is Jones speculating on the significance of his own writing. He sends it out to the world, knowing it may just be brushed by, but it will lives in the minds of some, like your analysis of footprints in nature. He cannot look back, or the “footprints,” or emotions, will “eat” him. I know I went somewhat on a tangent, but your analysis inspired me to think deeper into this poem, so thank you!

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