Hawk by John L. Stanizzi

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still… –Robert Frost, After Apple Picking

I only saw it once,
though saw is an exaggeration.
It was something less than a glimpse,
some insignificant wisp of a passing idea
at the far end of my peripheral vision,
the blurred silhouette of a hawk
carrying in its talons
the blurred silhouette of a bird.

This was after I had found
the first feathers,
a catbird’s,
and then, twice, blue jays’,
feathers arranged neatly on the ground
in the shape of a starfish
or a God’s Eye.

That was all;
no plucked, hollow-boned body,
no blood.
Just a composition of feathers
there on the grass
beneath the feeders,
a talking circle,
the ritual of What is left unsaid,
the hawk lifting
the plucked and keening body
and perhaps the talking feather too,
leaving the rest behind,

as if the hawk’s ascension toward heaven
were affirmation that
when you are carried away
you must shed everything,
what you have said,
what it was you meant to say,
and, yes, even your
lovely, momentary feathers.

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