Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Cooper’s Hawk

That afternoon, out running errands
on a road filled with others like me, the sky
bent a moment with a hawk and its prey.
I remembered her then, not at the sight of them—

the driver to my left saw, too: the flap and glide
a few feet above traffic, air made visible
between the wing feathers and the finest hairs
of the limp squirrel’s fur—I remembered her

because she’d taught me their names. This one,
Cooper’s hawk, raids the nests of birds and small
mammals in spring. Unlike others that bite
to kill, it squeezes prey to death in its grip;

they’ve been known to drown their catch,
preferring to use their beaks for eating, never
as a weapon. My tolerance for Nature, red in tooth
and claw, rose as my estrogen fell. The wish

to die died with my hormones, and with all that
powering down, I could finally hear myself
not think. Held tight in the hawk’s talons,
the squirrel looked already dead, or maybe

dazed as it rode the sky above me. It looked
like the wet ponytail my neighbor’s child wore
that night. She’d been in some sort of trouble
and was crying. When her father came

after her, she tried to defend herself.
No words, he said. No words.
I don’t want to hear you speak with your mouth.  

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