Beetles were still picking at the bones. I came upon it returning from, oddly enough, a dead end trail I’d taken. It was maybe a hundred feet from a service road and maybe two hundred from the interstate. It looked to be a coyote. It was such an odd location I suspected a trooper had pulled it off the interstate and tossed it here to decay. Fur was sinking into the earth and the bones had been partially scattered by scavengers.
I stared at it. One day I will seep into the earth, I thought. I sat on a nearby log and thought it a good omen to consider death for a bit. There are many meditations for pondering death, one in particular, in which you allow yourself to see your body decaying into the earth, like this coyote. So I sat and imagined I was sinking into the earth with him. It wasn’t unpleasant. The day was warm, sunny and there was a breeze under the tree. After a time, I found his bones comforting, and with that the idea of mine vanishing into the wind, too. The whole eco-system benefitted from this death. Tree roots to small weeds grew from the carcass. Green iridescent beetles thrived in the marrow and took what they ingested back into the dirt. I’d have photographed him from a lying position, but for me there’s a line in my creative hunger at lying in a bed of beetles. Still the sun would catch the red of a ladybug or the green of a scarab taking off and I felt not the least sorrow or loss. One day I will be part of all of this beauty.
After a time, I felt less and less as if my body was sitting there and more and more as if the spirit of the coyote had taken a seat next to me. So we sat. My spirit and the spirit of the coyote and we watched the beetles take his body back into the earth. It was a lovely spring day.
For Steve and Juan. Lovely to chat about death….
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