Night calls the animals to the streets. I’m on the Triumph shifting gears amid my own shiftlessness. At the corner of Mohawk and Reservoir a scrawny coyote sifts through the contents of a trashcan. In the neighborhood newsletter editorials, the coyotes are always portrayed as nuisances. In folklore, coyotes are often depicted as trickster figures—whenever one shows up, watch out: something interesting is about to happen. Sideways is usually the way it goes from there, but that’s better than a straight line. Look at the way cops drive. I’m stopped at a traffic light, watching the coyote lap up leftover beer in the recycling bin. I admire a coyote that drinks. I give my horn a quick tap of approval. The coyote looks at me with its eyes aglow. I look at the coyote. And for a split second we understand all there is to understand; we understand each other. Nothing lasts. The light changes. 

Ryan Ridge is the author of four books, including American Homes (University of Michigan Press, 2014), which was The Michigan Library Publishing Club’s inaugural book club pick. Past work can be found in Fanzine, DIAGRAM, The Collagist, Passages North, The Potomac Review, The Santa Monica Review, Salt Hill, and elsewhere. Ridge lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, and edits the literary magazine Juked. He’s an assistant professor at Weber State University.