Beneath the Hawk

Tara Bray Click to

Tara Bray is the author of Small Mothers of Fright (LSU Press, 2015) and Mistaken For Song (Persea Books, 2009). Her recent poems have appeared in PoetryCrazyhorseAgniThe Southern Review, Image, and The Hudson Review, and have been featured by Verse Daily, Poetry Daily, and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry.  She currently lives in Richmond, where she teaches research writing at Virginia Commonwealth University

I live beneath the hawk untouched
and bare, but sometimes it descends
determined, wings spread.

Today I cut through a parking lot to follow it,
walked along the pines beyond my neighborhood.
I took my camera there.

It was as if it waited just for me,
its feathers ruffled by the wind.
I wanted to spread my hands and bury them

beneath the black and white and rust,
a red-shouldered, the face so pleasing,
I might have fallen in.

But the hawk’s eyes went bright,
then locked, and when it flew,
the man at the church across the lot

raised his dark arms.  Did you get it?  Did you?
I lifted my camera and my pale hand,
“Yes. Beautiful!” and turned.  I felt the river

between us, like a stream of hardship.
We couldn’t see it, but it was there,
and still we cheered.

Our voices signaled to the smaller birds
tucked in the brush.  The hawk long gone,
and as always everywhere.