The Hawk Returns

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The hush around the bird feeder should have alerted me, but I am trapped in my own thoughts this morning and notice nothing until I see the sweeping darkness of the hawk’s great wings.

Now he sits there in the oak tree, careless in all his arrogant beauty,  brown and gold plumage glistening in the sunlight.  Negligently he preens himself while the world around him holds its breath.

I stand in my silent kitchen and gaze out at the predator who is surveying his kingdom. He has not returned to my garden for more than six months. How odd, I think, that he should come today. I haven’t slept well, and the dream that awakened me at four this morning still haunts. So do the worries which, on the heels of that dream, wormed their way into my thoughts. Worries usually pushed aside during the busy daylight hours—some have relevance, many not. Some are about things I need to do, others about tasks left too long undone. And some—the worst—are nameless, shapeless shadows that whisper, “What if…?” and cling even to my waking mind.

Sibilant whispers

Ask questions without answers

In the silent night.

And now… the hawk is here. A few moments ago the bird feeders were bursting with color and movement and song. Now the only sound comes from dead, rustling leaves on the ground. And in that silence, the hawk watches… and waits.

Just so come the night worries. Out of nowhere on dark wings they swoop down and render silent all the goodness and happiness in our lives. I watch the bird of prey knowing how it feels to be cowering under the leaves or in the fragile shelter of the trees, afraid and waiting.

The hawk is waiting, too. He has stopped preening and is turning his head slowly, scanning. The small hidden creatures hold their breath, and I do, too. Then I see the sudden sharp turn of the head, the fixed stare. The hawk has found his prey.

And he strikes! Swooping down into the dead leaves he pounces. Gripe, gripe, go those deadly talons, and there is a rustling commotion. Then he flies away with his victim tight clenched. I know that it is the law of nature, I understand that hawks, too, needed to eat, and yet my heart aches for the wretched, doomed creature.

The hawk settles nearby and begins to hit one talon against the hardness of the branch. In that talon he holds, I know, some small creature that had been hidden in the leaves. I want to turn away from the window but can’t move.

For I, too, am caught

In great talons of fear

Wishing to escape.

And then the hawk’s talon open, and a drift of dead leaves shower down. He really hasn’t caught anything! The predator has missed!

I’m relieved. I feel suddenly lighter, as if all my worries are sloughing off like unwanted skin. They are only shadows, after all, born of darkness, unsubstantial, unreal. They have no power over me unless I give them power. Meanwhile, the hawk sits there shaking leaves from his talon.

And then, with a lift of wings, the great raptor flies, and it is as if he is carrying away with him all the worries of the night.

How bright the sunshine

Now that the shadow has gone

And the world is whole.

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About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: maureen@wartski.org/ My blog is here: https://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/ Or friend me on Facebook!

10 responses »

  1. My bird feeder residents have experienced the same as yours, but I never have written about it. Your poetry is beautiful. Thank you for the photo, too.

    • Thank you so much, Margy. The hawk was beautiful, powerful, arrogant… and the birds were so glad to see him go. A few brave cardinals (male) toughed it out for a bit, but even they disappeared after a few minutes!

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