Red-tailed hawk spreads wings, rises in flight,
Spreading broad brown wings to tremendous blue,
Translucent red tail-feathers catch sunlight –
Bending downward, he circles to the right,
A speed-loving skater boi catching air.
With sun behind him, he appears too bright,
A cloud – or deep shadow – hidden from sight:
Spirit disguised as a lord of the wind,
A fancy dancer waltzing with the wind,
Who spreads his pinions in pure delight,
Unfettered by bramble, by stone or tree,
Holding dominion, yet still breathing free.
With broad wingtips he scribbles poetry,
Noble musings on the role of the knight,
Or prayers to his hawk-faced deity,
And anthems to his holy trinity,
Of house sparrow, scaly-skinned trout, and shrew.
Though he might rule the world, he can see
He reigns with a casual dignity
The domain of flight. The wind-lord will share
Whatever skies are, both rainy and fair.
Mayhaps he’s a creature of vanity,
Bone and feather congealed from dust and wind,
Assembled from lightning, rain cloud and wind.
Red-tailed hawk must be a lover of wind,
Mortal groom of rushing divinity,
Matter and motion ritually joined,
Vitality and vacuum entwined.
Hawk spirals upward, turning to the right,
Gently caressing his lover, the wind,
And being in turn massaged by the wind,
Eternally ancient, constantly new,
Creature of laurel, and ivy, and rue –
Given spirit by the breath of the wind,
A hunter’s beak and a thousand-yard stare,
A life in updraft, suspended in air
And silent, so silent – is he still there?
Softly he lies in the arms of the wind
Entangled in neither worry nor care
And any action at all might he dare
So long as hawk remain wild and free.
The sight of him will my spirit repair
When I see him dancing in shallow air,
Bending downward, and turning to the right,
Returning to his eyrie for the night
So his cousin barn owl can love the air,
Bringing hooting death to the twilight crew,
Broad wings of murder over evening dew.
Hawk knows only what is simple and true:
The oak’s spreading limbs, and currents of air,
The shape of a field mouse, and sparrow, too,
Frog and occasionally something new:
A caged parakeet released to the wind.
Hawk joins with everything that ever flew,
And rises sunward from the egg anew
Obeying both Newton and Bernoulli.
Within both their patternings he is free,
Free to soar in the broad abyss of blue.
Red tail-feathers spread, translucent to light,
Rebending upward, turning to the right,
All enfolded in the secret of flight –
A gift man seized by ingenuity –
One that raptors hold in trust from the wind.
Thus hawk holds the liberty of the air:
Freedom entangled with rapturous blue.
22 April 2005