Last week, while I was at Brenda’s in Cambridge, I had a curious dream–more of a fragment, actually. In it, I held an empty earthenware coffee mug which was decorated with the head of a coyote. I set the cup down on a glass-top stove which was apparently hot, for the cup didn’t so much shatter as explode. That’s when I woke up. Brenda and I discussed the elements: cup, coyote, explosion. There was no coffee; I didn’t get burned. Despite the explosion of the cup, no pieces cut me. The stove did not burn me. I was not injured. The cup, and the coyote, were destroyed.
I don’t like coyotes. In this dream fragment, though–possibly because of the violence of my feeling–the exploding coyote became the central figure. Brenda and I hashed it out. Had I put the cup down knowing what would happen? I don’t think so. The coyote was a threat. The cup was empty. Put those together, and what was my subconscious mind trying to tell me? According to Brenda, who is a brilliant mix of the analytical and the intuitive, this fragment indicated that there was something I was anxious about which would amount to nothing. Thus evolved my mantra for last week: exploding coyotes! Faced with any anxiety, I just repeated that. Exploding coyotes!
That didn’t make me like them any more. Where I live, the coyotes are first noticeable in the late summer or early fall–last night, for example, in the aftermath of the blue moon–and frequently come down from the hills and into the fields once the nights grow cooler. And they howl. There is nothing so lonely, so eerie, so haunted as a coyote’s howl…unless it’s the howling of the entire pack. Last night they began around 2 a.m. They woke me, as they always do, and I found I was shaking. At first they seemed so very close to the house: I clenched my eyes shut and could almost see them loping down Route 7, lifting their pointed snouts to the moon. The sound came in waves; it receded, drew closer, fell away again.
I was reminded of the night my brother died, just this weekend, a couple
of years ago. That night it was the telephone that woke me–my sister, calling with the news–but the coyotes howled in counterpoint, all night long. They kept me awake; my brother’s death kept me awake. The two things have become intimately connected in my mind. Brenda sent me a link to a webpage discussing the meaning of the coyote as a totem animal; one of the things that page said was that the Shoshone people think of the coyote as a symbol of endings. In my mind, death and coyotes have become inextricably linked. Just hearing their cries now makes me want to cry.
(It doesn’t help that the coyotes took one of my cats a few years ago, either.)
So I haven’t quite bought into the dream interpretation Brenda and I worked up last week. To me, there’s still something disturbing about that dream, something I haven’t yet figured out. However, I did tell the small cat she’s not allowed out to hunt tonight: when the coyotes howl, I want to know we’re all inside, safe from their autumn prowling.