Hen and Coyote
a Mayan Folk Tale rewritten by Phillip Martin

The Maya civilization extended throughout southern Mexico and into Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador.  The Maya cities reached their highest state of development during the Classic Period (c.250 to 900 AD).  They continued until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.

Although the empire is long gone, the Maya people survived the Spanish colonization and still live in the region where their ancestors did.  Mayan tales often had tricksters.  Sometimes it was a rabbit.  This tale is about a trickster coyote.   And, like tricksters around the world, sometimes the tricks work and other times life doesn’t go as planned.

“Good news!  My friend, I bring you good news!” cried the coyote.  “Would you like me to share my good news?”

Now, Hen was no spring chick.  She knew that coyote never brought good news, ever!  He always brought along some kind of trick and the goal involved something to do with plucking and frying.   Skeptical, to be sure, she looked down at the coyote and clucked,

“Do you really have good news for me?”

“Oh, yes!  I have the very best of news!” declared Coyote.  “Peace has been declared!  Yes, the coyotes and hens are now at peace.  We’re friends!  So, why don’t you hop down from that tree and give us a little hug?”

Hen snorted and then clucked at the idea.  “I wasn’t hatched yesterday!”

“I’m serious, my friend,” continued the coyote.  “A hug would be a fitting gesture of good will.  We’re at peace.”

Hen clucked under her breath, “The only piece of me he wants is a thigh or maybe a couple of wings.”  Then, she turned to Coyote and asked, “If we are really at peace, as you say, where is the treaty?  When was it signed?  What are the terms of this agreement?”

“So many questions!” replied the coyote.  “If you must know, the treaty was signed on the other side of the mountain.  So come on, my little chickadee.  It’s time to give this coyote a big bear hug.”

“My bear hug is in hibernation until I see some kind of proof,” clucked Hen. 

“Look into my eyes and tell me you don’t believe me,” cried Coyote.  “Come on down now.  It’s time to hug it out.”

“Well, Coyote, you might just be telling me the truth,” answered Chicken.  “I see Dog coming and he’s coming fast.  Perhaps there was also a treaty signed between you two?”
Coyote quickly looked to the horizon.

“Maybe you can’t see him yet, but I can from up in this tree,” cackled the hen.  “He’s coming faster and faster.  There might just be a couple of dogs behind him, too.  If there is peace, you can hug it out with the whole pack!”

Coyote’s left ear twitched as he sniffed the air for Dog’s scent.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t smell him right now.  You’re going to get a big whiff of dog when you give his pack a little hug.  How many dogs can you grab in a bear hug anyway?”

Hen never got an answer to her question.  When she looked down from her tree, she only saw the tip of Coyote’s tail as it disappeared in the bushes. He would be long gone before the dogs arrived.  But, in reality, there were no dogs just as there never really was any kind of peace treaty.  The clever hen had to do something to frighten that coyote away before he ate her.  And, a pack of dogs worked perfectly against Coyote’s pack of lies.

Copyright 2015 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.