Grandfather's Sling

The whirl made coyote backpedal– red eyes

into sleeves of mist. His fist wheeled cold air

into wind when the pack gave chase,

cackling at cattle we herded uphill,

peeling fangs at the calves that lingered.

He made the sling sing like a whip–

one lash & the pack scattered

to a threat no longer heard,

no longer held together.

Sometimes, the blow is the snap itself

I never knew what he meant.

In the long pasture the herd patiently grazed.

The urge to get older filled me.

Those mornings I could still fit

inside his shadow, I could slip

my whole hand through the eye

of the fingerloop. I still didn't know,

he never put a stone in the cradle.