Coyote Mothers of the Niagara Region

Illustration: Michael Cho, from his book, Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes. Website:

Winter pregnancies are always tough in Niagara.

February has its monstrous cold but then
that string of days when everything is warm.
The sun is out, the snow melts, and
there the air is kind to cold toes.
The deep, hopeful heat.

March is a soggy, barren, bitching month
to carry so much responsibility to
the back of a grocery store.
A coyote sneaks from her home to find food
in the wet Lake Ontario wind
of Beamsville’s crisscrossing streets,
corner after corner of stop signs and snow drifts.
But the supplies are all in one dense clamouring downtown parking lot.
She waits until dark for the last car to leave
then crawls from the ditch and sniffs at the dumpster.

In May, walking her pups in the sun-dappled
gullies of Vineland, a mother pauses to listen
to Jamaican songs, Mexican songs, barbecue radios.
Her memories of motherhood will be of multilingual afternoons
and the hidden conversations of humans just out of sight.
She will have a memory of meeting the eyes of a migrant worker
who afterwards writes his pregnant wife
about how he wants to be with her.
The coyotes here, he says, are the only Canadians
who understand.

Terry Trowbridge is from the Niagara region where he is awestruck by the activism of diverse groups like Niagara Action for Animals, the Heartland Forest Nature Centre, the Niagara Migrant Workers Interest Group, Grey Borders, and the St. Catharines Poetry Slam.

Tags:   migrant justice poetry writing contest

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