It had been easy once -
a dozen effortless strokes - just the right attitude of wings -
climbing the wind as a child climbs a wave -
upward for a way, just catching the crest,
then turning downwind
for the easy glide.
conserving every measure of energy
(a small movement below worth investigating)
Old Hawk turned back, once again, into the wind,
and struggled to gain altitude.
Worn tendons and weary muscles struggled.
Nothing was easy anymore,
but instinct still prevailed -
eyesight was pretty good,
and he was hungry.
Field mouse emerged, warily, from beneath an abandoned wall.
Life, of a different kind, had been here.
It was his inheritance,now.
He switched his way a brief distance
into the fading afternoon -
whiskers twitching nervously -
little ripples of skin moving up and down his back -
sitting straight up, nose up,
all energy -
out from the cool safety of the den -
checking for any sign of danger.
It was a little early for him,
and he knew the grain was gone,
but maybe there was Something,
and he was hungry.
The tiny movement keenly spotted -
(surprised by its audacity,
but fine-tuned to its possibility),
the old hawk
marshaled aging resources.
Lately he had been settling
for defenseless bugs -
a small snake, perhaps,
but even they were dwindling.
The pickings were lean for an old hawk,
and the seven year drought
was everyone’s enemy.
Downwind glide now -
not too fast,
timing has to be perfect -
flare the wings just a touch -
tail feathers down two degrees -
legs down -
just enough drag -
talons ready -
perfect angle -
glide path just over the piled stones-
he hasn’t sensed me yet -
six more feet -
Field mouse knew something was wrong.
He checked and re-checked -
sniffing the air,
whiskers at full sensitivity,
trembling body attuned to every possible threat.
Generations of spontaneous reaction
moved him four inches to the left.
feathers and fur -
a vortex of dust and tiny pebbles -
Each took a second to evaluate the scene.
Old Hawk had missed.
Field mouse zipped back under the stones.
Old Hawk limped away a few yards -
and hungry still -
flapped weary wings,
How many tomorrows would there be?
The Anasazi left the year before,
when they still could.
(comment on this poem)