Updraft

My neighbor the seahawk
Joins us on our morning walk
Diving from her nest of needles, twine, and bone
Built in the boughs of the longleaf pine
Taller than the tall, its last arms unsnapped,
Weathering decades of hurricanes
And half that in urban sprawl,
Eighty feet above the dead pocosin swamp
Upon which our nests are built.

She swirls high above the power lines
That separate the roads from the sky
Filled with downy clouds painted on
A wide canvas filled with Caroline blue horizons,
Waiting for the warm air to
rise from the pavement
Where the dogs pads click in rhythm
My sneakers squeaking out of sync.

Three bird shadows lifting from a loblolly pine.
Dead squirrel eaters, cacophonous cawers,
Feather-flinging wings beating the air,
Trying to hunt the hunter.
My neighbor dives, wings tucked, white belly
Crows lurching through the air,
Drunken flyers with bleating cries,
Pecking her wings until
She banks and dives and catches an
Invisible updraft, lifting her two trees
Higher than the pack.

Above the crows, above the wires,
Above the dogs and me
The seahawk circles and whistles a screech.
I mimic her cry, high-pitched and loud
Enough to fool the crows who caw back at me,
But not close enough to fool her
As she flies in growing halos,
Silent as angels’ wings.

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