Hawk and Pigeon

I thought I saw a hawk
sitting on the tallest branch
of a maple or an oak tree
five neighbors’ yards away,
and when the flock of pigeons
that settles in the daytime
on a nearby cape-cod roof,
swooped and dipped and flapped
long, gray, propeller wings —
whirring and flying and landing
and landing and flying and whirring,
over and over again,
together, as pigeons do
when not perched in damp
and dirty recesses
of an old, dark concrete bridge,

I prayed the hawk would take one.

I prayed that
I would see him watch and stare,
pretending little interest
in his Spartan, stoic manner
before he made his choice and
launched himself onto an upward current,
spreading his long, brown and dappled wings
exposing all the beauties of his breast and rich, red tail
silently lifting his gravity into the giant, invisible vortex
to circle silently on the wind
before finally taking aim and firing at his target —
confident his stomach would be full
this night.

I prayed that I would see him pluck the pigeon from mid-flight

as if to let the birds know
there was no safety here,
as though to say they might as well return to highway’s underbelly
to live in night and squalor,
forever to abandon their intrusion on a peaceful suburb’s yard.

Yes, I did. Within the ruthless part of me I prayed that it would happen.

Then – a blessing to the flock –
I saw with my binoculars
he was not a hawk at all,
but, rather, just a tangle of misplaced maple leaves
atop the great, tall tree
too far away to see for my myopic vision,
a summer morning’s figment of fierce
raptorial deliverance sitting softly in the sunshine.

Disappointment filled me,
but, then, who am I to ask
for another creature’s death?

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