I wish I had had a camera with me on my walk the other day. A cooper’s hawk flew low over the road (practically over my head) with a screeching squirrel squirming in its talons, the squirrel’s tail thrashing from side to side. We followed the hawk to where it landed and watched it for a minute. When we tried to get closer the hawk took off, carrying its meal to a more private place. It was amazing to watch this forest hawk zip through a suburban neighborhood.
I tried to capture the moment in a poem, and am not quite satisfied with it. I wrote a tanka–a thirty-one syllable poem. Traditionally a tanka is a lyrical poem that savors beauty, first used between women and men in courtship. It is supposed to include a turn in the third line from an image to a response to an image. Watching a hunting hawk and its struggling prey is awe-inspiring to me, and I find a certain beauty in it–but I’m not sure a form that celebrates lyrical beauty and courtship is the appropriate one! And I really wanted to keep the focus on our observation, not on an emotional response (because then the world would know how strange I truly am, relishing the sight of a squirrel’s demise!) Perhaps I’ll find a better form for this, but for now here’s my poem:
cooper’s hawk flies low
weighted with a screeching squirrel
whose tail flails and jerks
—we gape while hawk lands atop
its now silent, limp-tailed prey
–Buffy Silverman, 2014
Happy spring! To find all of today’s poetry posts, visit Today’s Little Ditty where Michelle is celebrating her birthday bash and Poetry Friday.