Written in the winter of 2012, Coyote Wine (for SATB chorus) is a setting of Sean Fleming’s (b. 1989) poem of the same name.
Gray hide emerges from gray mud,
your hair rusting at the shoulders
beneath the pruned vineyard rows
where old clusters turn to raisins.
The wicks of your ears piercing
the fog for a rabbit’s death squeal
tuned exactly like our corroding
chains reeling repetitiously.
The reward of civilization
is suffering, labored order
pray for our squandered abuse
yours is unconscious grace.
No mechanism to your vanishing
like wisdom bled from an old mind
like water swallowing your tracks
you have made us your wilderness.
The poet says “I wrote Coyote Wine after seeing a coyote in the middle of a vineyard while biking through southern Oregon. Coyotes are one of the few animals that have actually increased their range with the spread of humanity, so I was writing primarily about how our own proliferation helps other animals, that our civilization becomes a wilderness.” He adds “symmetry and order is not the law of nature, but a tool for propelling its chaotic beauty. The decay of civilization is but a reef for new life.”