Two Hawks (v.2.2)

A pair of sharp-shinned hawks
Found our farm. Never
Far from one another,
Perched in the outstretched arms

Of hackberries—trees, in their way,
Probably not much
Older than the birds. I made
Rounds on the tractor, mowing winter

Blackberries, burgundy
Canes guarding thick blankets
Of dead grass—mouse’s houses—
Summer pasture passed over,

Too prickly for the delicate lips of
Cattle. They watched me, these
Two, leaning with suspicion,
Approximating my proximity,

And I recalled when, as a boy,
I raised a sheet of sun-warmed
Tin—a collapsed shed roof—
To discover two black snakes

Tranquilly coiled and watchful,
Dark shadows in the dust,
Flickering forked tongues
To taste my intent. Delighted,

I sprinted to inform the farm
Hands, only to return the next day
To find the metal thrown aside,
And both snakes decapitated.

No hydras here, their
Bodies stiff with rigor mortise,
The tracks of boot heels
Puncturing the dust, black

Blood everywhere. Bitter
Betrayal! A boy, I buried
Them in the stony, splashing
Sepulcher of my heart, left

Decades for the hawks
To find, falling earthward
To soar, winging skyward
In an effortless, unwavering arc.

2 thoughts on “Two Hawks (v.2.2)”

  1. I happened upon your site (and this particular poem) a couple months ago when I was looking up the hours for Homespun and somehow encountered the link to this site. For whatever reason, I found myself drawn to read this poem at the time.

    I just came back to read it again. As with the first time, I am so deeply touched and saddened by the actions toward the black snakes. Your description of them is so beautiful. And they are such exquisite, beloved animals to me. The first time I read this poem, the tears I was brought to were of shock when I read the stanza in question. This time, I teared up again even though the content was not a surprise.

    Your poetic depiction of the snakes, what happened, the poignant and precious response in you, and the connection to the hawks is intricately beautiful. Thank you for writing and offering this.

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