The Hawk Above the House

The hawk hung low above the house. Its eyes,

appraising, passed over me -- prey or not prey? --

then it swung up, veered eastward, gone. That moment

I too ached to arc against the sun's arc,

reversing it and following its bright track

back through the dawn and then the darkness till

I soared in sunlight above the stucco box

I sat on as a boy watching for hawks,

and then I'd fold my wings, plummet, flap twice

against my plummet, grasp the roof's rough apex,

and there I'd watch the boy who watched for me.

Oh, he'd have given anything to fly,

either the hawk exploding on the sparrow

or the sparrow, frantic, threading through the cedars.

He'd have given anything to fly, the rapt

boy staring at the sky, imagining

if he could imagine being a hawk, deciding no,

then knowing it impossible, a mere

extension of himself to wings and cold

predation. He did it anyway and failed,

and here I am at last to tell him he was right.

Andrew Hudgins is a professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. His most recent book of poems is Babylon in a Jar (1998).

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