Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk

When the cool coy wife
Whose public manner and private prurience
had kept me winter warm
Journeyed back across the high desert
In the bruise of spring
To her husband
I fled to the gorge to stare
In craven contemplation

Of the plunge. It was then your primal shriek
Mnemonic of aeons past and perhaps a few sad generations to come
Drew me reluctantly from wretched reverie.
I watched your sleek-winged upwind approach
Saw that rufous wedge flick and flex
In the keen vernal breeze.

As days warmed and stretched
I returned often to the ravine,
That slices the tablelands
Like a crack in a frozen pond
To spy on you repairing the aerie
For another brood, to watch you spiral and plummet
In gay courtship
And to hear again

That riveting down-slurred cry.
Conceitedly I thought you greeted me
Until I heard the hollow whoops
Of organized revelry
From the daily flotation of inflated egos
On the swollen waters far below.


Did you call in fear or howl in derision?
Contempt it must be
For how could these white-knuckled roller coaster riders
Who’ve made a Disneyland guffaw
Of this raw and pristine rift
Threaten your primacy of the fourth dimension.

With solstice past and melt-off ended
Inane intrusion receded with the waters.
So too, the sweet nectar of the departed girl’s forbidden fruit
Remained only in the taut chevron of your wings
And the glimpse of your russet rear
Recalled the avian abandon
At the crux of her spinal arch.

In the still oven of high summer
Your fledglings flew,
And as you urged them shrilly
Into tentative flight
I too launched the vestige of desire
Into the void.

This year I see you’ve moved
Taking new territory in a side canyon.
There only the placid fisherman
Will glance skyward when you honour him
With that shriek worth a thousand sonnets
A hundred Illiads, a dozen Othellos.
And when finally I shuffle
From this orbital toil
May the last sound I hear
Be the atavistic integrity
Of the hawk’s far cry
Not the simper
Of man
At my ear.