August 6, 2018
This early morning, the songbirds are strangely silent. As I leave my lamplit reading and ease across the room to take up Sacred Laundry-sorting, the World beyond the glass invites a glance. Ah. There in the Elm, fifteen feet from me, at eye level, His Rapturous Raptor, Buteo lineatus, Red-shouldered Hawk. Orange belly, dappled back, yellow beak, tipped in black.
Dark eye catching mine, he flies. An hour later, it’s still pretty quiet out there! Re-equilibrium is taking a while.
Luke Timothy Johnson writes, “Religious experience is a response of the whole person to what is perceived as ultimate, characterized by a peculiar intensity and issuing in appropriate action.” Yes. Early bright morning—what year, I couldn’t say. As today, I look up from my work, the World beyond the glass inviting a glance. There atop a utility pole, lit up by the rising sun, a red-shouldered hawk. He seems in no hurry, he seems all unaware of the watcher below. Does he know there’s a Face on his back? I find myself intensely caught—body, mind, and heart. When at last he falls on some out of sight Other beyond the fence, I do my best to capture what wants to be said:
Then there’s the Christmas Angel. If you haven’t seen him before, on this website, or the cover of my book, here he is:
Does it seem to you those bright breast feathers are signaling Something? Whatever it is, it captures me. And my intense response is to brave the sharp cold of that morning and capture it!
To close, a truly clunky poem about the difficulty of identifying hawks.
Phoebe’s Hawk Song
Valentine’s Day, 2010
“Give your heart to the hawks” –Robinson Jeffers
Okay, I will!
Zone-tailed, White-tailed, Red-tailed, Broad?
Their tails are confusing, so maybe I oud
To turn to their size? Wee Merlin, big Marsh?
If only they’d line up, not treat us so harsh!
Cooper’s or Kestrel, Krider’s or Black?
Can’t find my Peterson, feeling the lack—
Rough-legged, Red-shouldered, Harris, or White?
Sharp-shinned, Sparrow hawk—Children of Light!
They know who they are, and what they must do,
As do I, so back to the slew
Of papers and projects, practical things.
But the Hawk is still out there, flexing his wings . . .