Summer of the Hawks
In the spring we started to see a pair
of Cooper’s hawks, tiercel and hen,
high in our neighbor’s catalpa tree,
long before its white blossoms appeared.
The hawks were mostly silent then, brooding
in the uppermost branches of that tall tree
or sometimes flying together, diving
and gliding over the trees.
But then the chicks came, and soon
they were fledglings, and catalpa petals
were floating down and carpeting
the street our aerie of hawks flew over,
high and low, their calls half a cry, half
a whistle, cries for food, feeding cries,
call and response, all day long.
Sometimes they flew from the catalpa
to the enormous dead elm, skeletonous,
in our front yard, or they perched on
the utility pole in our backyard above
the bird feeder I hoped was well-concealed
by overhanging branches of the plum tree.
More than once I’ve stood, watching
a perched hawk gazing down
unflinchingly at me—a mere mortal.
The neighbor across the street calls
out as we both stand in our front yards.
“They’re teaching the young to kill,”
he says, and then, he amends,
“to hunt.” He laughs uncomfortably.
When we walk the dogs, we pass
clusters of feathers, doves, flickers,
and more, fanned out on the grass,
no other traces of life.
In the back, there’s a tall branch
in the apple tree, pointing upwards
in a Y shape, a perfect perch where
the finches often sit. I want to tell
them, danger, fly away.
This afternoon, some chickadees are at the feeder
and some are deep in the trees, calling dee,
dee, dee, wanting more seeds.
I watch that high branch where a rosy finch
now sits. I watch for the flash of wings--
beautiful and terrible too--
and the tiny bird, vanished.
Disturbance of Surfaces
Strange metaphors succeed: solstice fish,
carnal soup, swallowtail taxidermist,
and other phrases that ripple
the once-glassy lake where chakra eyes
now appear, floating provocatively.
A coyote appears in the park,
(this poem will not bring peace
to the grief-stricken or explain
blood or how to staunch it.)
Comments will be included
on how the wind has ended
--with a few terrifying gusts--
the life of a tree.
That through all of this cold,
pure daylight, a coyote walks
across a sere field, its long
thick tail moving at a metronome’s
slow beat, reminding you this
isn’t the dog next door.
The day has fierce teeth
that break the skin without
drawing blood. The body
alive, the skin alive, lips
that can suck, the tongue,
that plump wonder,
the brown grasses telling
you to love this brown,
its delicacy, its mutedness.
What should we memorize.
as we live, speak, sing?
I try to memorize the cold of this day;
cold that burns, breathing through
fleece, breath slime.
Omne ignotum pro magnifico
Whatever is unknown
is held to be magnificent.
My Name is Rupa