Quills and Feathers

Red-tailed Hawk

Like a dark blur the hawk drops in a deep dive

into a small bundle of prey, commands the airwaves

with its great shoulders, its broad and lengthy wingspan;

folded in stillness, then, it perches on branch or pole.

What pools of opportunity here on the open prairie,

this island spinning with food to its electric eyes.

On the grass floor, among the rooted slender stalks, even

in dust few are safe from its sharp talon, its beak of doom.

Look, there, watch it bathe in blue air, soaring and circling,

small blotch on the mirror of pond, its rusty tail its signature.

Hawk, Red-tailed

Buteo jamaicensis

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The bird's "rusty tail" as "signature" is well done; the bird's "beak of doom" maybe less so. What I especially like in the poem are the various spondees that seem to echo the species' insistent power, most evident in the very first line: "Like a DARK BLUR the HAWK DROPS in a DEEP DIVE. . . ." With metrics like that—be afraid. Be very afraid!

Bibliographical information

Author: Hansen, Twyla (1949-)Johnsgard, Paul A. (1931-)

Book: Prairie Suite: A Celebration

Date: 2006

Publisher: Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center

Project Information

Genre: Poetry