When I think about whats wrong with the world, I often return to the image of a dead dog on the highway I drive to work every morning.
I say dog, but it’s probably a wolf or a coyote. Its dead body appeared sometime in mid-winter last year, leaned up against the barrier between the road and the endless construction projects, with their piles of gravel, idling heavy equipment, and signs pointing up at powerlines, tiny cartoon men in electrical paroxysms against orange backgrounds. When the weather warms up a bit you see a lot of roadkill, if you drive a lot.
The bigger animals are often so shredded by their encounter with an automobile that they look like raw pastries, like strudels which have been sliced open and twisted so their filling can pour out and caramelize in the oven. But this big coyote was more or less intact.
This environment, between the endless stream of cars and the torn up earth or naked concrete of the construction area, is so inimical to life that scavengers, who usually benefit from roadkill, picking away at it over the course of a day or so that the corpses seem to evaporate in the time lapse of your daily drive past them, are too afraid to descend on it, and so this animal’s body just lay there, day after day. It seemed like the very forces of decay, the least pleasant, but most implacable, of the forces of nature, were arrested by this alien environment which, each day, as I drive through it, bleaches out my mind.
Eventually, sometime last year, as spring came on, the body just vanished. I assume some city service eventually picked it up and threw it in a dump somewhere.
There is another dead coyote in more or less the same place this year.