Repopulation

by Josephine Benson

Aquidneck, Rhode Island

The coyotes are back in town.

The street cats disappeared

—that’s how we first knew.


We see their shaggy forms

crossing streets at dusk and

at dawn and stalking deer.


They say that they bred

with wolves up north.

A half mile from the beach


one crosses in my headlights.

Not quite dog. I imagine lanky

coyotes racing labradors for


frisbees on damp sand and

stealing picnickers cheese

platters—the next evolution


of seagulls. See, the settlers’

fields are filling in, thick with

new growth trees, sheltering


plump woodchucks, rafters

of turkeys (of the two chicks,

only the jenny remains). And


then there’s the cats. Did

we think this world was ours

enough to protect our purring


pets? It was only ever on loan.

Rhode Island isn’t falling into

the sea, but we still owe.


So they’ve come back. Walking

on the beach, I could step on one,

curled up and perfectly hidden by


sand. Did they swim the bay

or take the bridges? Coyotes

galloping in the bike lane


reduce me to laughing tears.

Is this how our end times come?

Via the goddamn bike lane?

Josephine Benson is a resident of Rhode Island and a current undergraduate at Brown University, studying Geology. She is an EMT, writer, and avid outdoorswoman.