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May 27, 1997


by B.R. Culbertson

This wind the hawk hails:
he uses it for sailing, ruddering
with broad red tail, nimble feathers
computing every slant/tilt/strand
of air he threads, slides on
to the advantage of
          his accurate eye.

I would think, leaning here against
the wind, on the highest hill around,
though town's not very far away,
the hawk's the only life in the sky,
and I only his echo on the ground,
his shadow lost in waves of wind-rippled
          pasture grass.

Wild wind is what carries
that feeling to the geese, even
ones in the over-populated
town park ponds, fat with free food
through spring, through summer
into fall, with stupor quotient

until comes the far call, undeniable,
making them restive amid the plenty
and they rise, wing after wing,
imperial vees that disappear
across the town's small pond
toward this tall pasture hill
          and I see them drop

having migrated all of a mile or two,
into the farmer's pond below,
their instinct satisfied.
While the hawk soars on,
grasses ebb and swell in bursts
of wind like ocean currents
          hiding mice and voles,

and I, unsteady as a landsman
on a rolling deck, shoulderblades
aching where I wish for wings,
come down to earth like
the tame, fat geese--to town,
to home, to you, leaving to the hawk
          the wind.

(B.R. Culbertson won 3rd Prize in The Harbinger's White Rabbit Poetry Contest.)

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