by Hilary Sallick



Sitting by the window with Lisa
I saw a hawk in the winter tree
The hawk opened its wings     soft
flash of underwing

and drifted down     even closer
to a lower branch     It was a small hawk
with white breast of vertical striations
and long rounded tail     my brief glimpse
before I stepped away         called up the stairs
for others to come see

and Lisa was exclaiming     It moved to the fence!
It traded places with the squirrel     They did it again!
Look what they’re doing together!

*   *   *

The last day of the year     I’m alone
water trickling through pipes     stillness
out the window     the shadow
of the hawk

With binoculars I find it
high in the spruce     breakfast
in its yellow talons

The orange eye takes me     in the head
turning turning     Now it bends
to pull apart the bundle
of feather bone organ air

It tears     methodical
lets the inedible bits fly
works down
to fuel

*   *   *

Throughout the day     a pen
a page a broom a sink
fire and water
a window

Stalwart women speak
trudge to bus     wait
essential work
of hands of spirit of duty
moving room to room

Look out the window     there it is
drooping and swaying and turning upon itself
the world that surrounds
the hawk

One foot in front of the other
a broom a brush a wing
parts jointed together
we are

*   *   *

You want me to get you a drink?
young man to old woman
Water or something?

A Coolatta

What kind?

Coffee     but it’s gotta be light-light

He goes out

Oh sugar she moans
sitting in her purple shirt
her sagging body
tethered to oxygen
She reads a magazine
waits to see the doctor

*   *   *

At night I imagine it     folded
into itself on a branch

wrapped in wing of feather
against trunk of spruce

The whole cold stirring night
it dozes

Morning hunger it feasts
on a smaller bird

and I       come back to life
like flow of spirit slow

into speed     underground
with sound and cadence

with grammar
of thought

*   *   *

It lifts dives lands
all it can do
I follow its motions
and name them
a kind of doing

I plunge toward contact     grasp
air only     veer back up
ground far below   stirring with potential
Then the particular
flickers     the subtle movement browsing
unconscious     Dive again
toward scent of it
wholeness of wing at work
I strike
warm fighting being     stilling

Up to branch of tree I
squeeze     life becomes
object     possession cooling
in my hold     I begin
to take the thing apart       piece
by piece     tossing extraneous
bits     I work down to
the essence     I eat
what I need

*   *   *

Or I myself am prey     quiet among leaves
wandering after what I need
when thing of terror comes
down     I had known
it was possible     lived my life
in the awe of its presence
I never forgot it
and I had to forget it
In the truth of both I was seeking
the nubs of buds at ends
of branches     I
was following taste of fuel     seed to
seed     then arc of wind of
dark     soundless heat

I wake with instinct
slip to safety among tangle
of branches dense       where
I stay     separate

*   *   *

I slept again     dreamed
two hawks in the tree
never before seen     large white
with red crest on head and
back     a pair of them
as they lifted off
side by side across sky

Now I think
how like chickens they were
and their presence had a kind of
domesticity     though there
were the hawk’s wide wings
its strength and the blade
of its beak

*   *   *

With greater understanding
more is possible

so I imagined     managed
coming and going into it

slowly     why not
why     so hard

*   *   *

Facing sunset—     dome of cloudy sky
upward beams from below
pink undersides of purple clouds—

we’re part of something
larger than life

A bright darkness now
high and huge
the blue draining of light
turns to teal     rose

the clouds like spills
of warm ink

*   *   *

Oh my     it just sailed by
veering in flight
one wing tilted higher to
make the turn between
the houses     wide wings close up
flashing of nearness



Hilary Sallick is the author of Winter Roses (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and Asking the Form (forthcoming from Červená Barva Press in 2019). Her poems have appeared recently in The Bookends Review, Hawk and Whippoorwill, Whiskey Island, Ibbetson Street, The Inflectionist Review, Two Cities Review, and other publications. She teaches reading and writing to adult learners in Somerville, MA, and she is vice-president of the New England Poetry Club.

Back to Vol. IV: “Wonder”