Coyote in the woods



A poem.

Glenway Wescott, EX 1919, left the University of Chicago after becoming ill during the flu pandemic. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he moved to convalesce, he wrote his first poetry collection. A member of the expatriate literary community in Paris during the 1920s, he was openly gay; his relationship with companion Monroe Wheeler lasted for more than 60 years. 

Dusk falls
With a single movement.
The sheep nod in the corral
Fenced with cactus,
I crouch in my hut, playing
On the unpainted flute,
While the moon thickens.

The three dogs
Lie by the door, slim as goats.
And the coyotes
Come, to lure them away
With crooning
And shouts like bells
Which break
On the forked rocks.

I fall on my
Knees, weeping.
“They will leave
Me alone, to go mad! Stay
Here, they will tear
Your lips and ears!”

They whimper and lick my face,
Leap about
On their shadows
With stiff sharp feet.

“Mountain III. Coyotes.” From Natives of Rock: XX Poems: 1921–1922, with Decorations by Pamela Bianco (Francesco Bianco, 1925)