When I was a child, we’d lived on the edge of some woods,
Slightly hilly land, crossed with the odd stream or cowpath.
I’d walked there frequently, aimlessly,
Throwing the occasional stone here and there
(Skimming the smaller ones off the surface of the creek,
Displacing mosquitoes and dragonflies,
The larger rocks reserved for thickets of trees,
Rewarding me with a rich thwack if the missile found its target.)
Once I had tossed a great gray projectile
(All but shot-put sized, probably nicked and nibbled
By fossilized trilobites on its edges)
Into a stand of old horse chestnuts,
But the sound that emerged was not the woody report expected,
But an anguished and almost astounded cry,
Nearly human in its astonishment and pain.
I’d winged (more than that, in truth **** near killed)
A hawk sitting inexplicably low in the branches.
In my panic and puzzlement, I’d wrapped the bird in my jacket
(The hawk all but shredding its lining,
Adding to my mother’s already fervent agitation
Over having a wild bird in her kitchen not destined for the oven)
And taken it home, where we’d put it in a cage
(Not a bird cage per se, but the old crate for our dog
Who had wandered into these woods
A few months before when she’d sensed her time was at hand)
Where it sat silently for a couple of days,
Refusing food, water, or any other succor,
Simply staring at us with a searing look conveying a hatred
Which transcended species, language,
Any and all experience a child may have been privy to,
As, in those fresh-scrubbed, clean-linen days of youth,
I had nothing of the hawk’s knowledge of cages.
As an aside, if you ain't readin' Masters, you ain't readin'.