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Mask of a Hawk

The bird hunting a locust is unaware of the hawk hunting him ~Proverbs

There was a time in my life when I couldn’t get enough of the outdoors, couldn’t get enough of all things wild and free, couldn’t get enough of nature and camping and back backing, couldn’t get my fill of birds. I would spend hours walking in the forest preserves imaging what it would be like to run with Deer, stalk with Coyote, wear the feathered coat of Hawk and soar above the trees in search of a meal, in search of solitude, in search of peace for my tormented soul.

For I was tormented, tormented from within, tormented by an angst which seemed never to be satisfied, never tempered, a seemingly ravenous apetite consuming my soul for all but the briefest of moments when I was lost somewhere deep in the halls of my mind. It was a time when I sought peace from the outside, sought comfort in the external. I lived this way for many years, lived this way until I learned that peace comes from within, learned that the external can never satisfy the hunger of the internal.

It was during this time that I experienced one of the greatest periods of creativity in my life. It was during this time that I was walking in the woods and happened upon the empty shell that used to be cedar waxwing, a song bird common to the midwest forests. This poem grew of that experience.


Mask of a Hawk

On the muddy bank of a silt laden river,
Beneath a plant laughing in white and purple flowers,
Lies a splintered shell

Ebony eye captures sunlight
Falling through broad leaf trees

Soft, silvery down supports
Resting black and russet head

Beak parted
In final, futile

Crimson painted hollowed skull lies vacant in decaying leaves
Severed, single, black leg, hides
Beneath pink tipped and yellow fringed feathers

Gently curved talon
Caresses nonexistent branch

Some weep at your passing
But not I,
For you are yet alive

The keeper of the costumes,
Has merely bestowed a new guise

You donned the masks of countless insects,
Before enjoying the mask of a cedar waxwing

For a brief moment,
You’ll wear the mask of a high flying hawk as it
Ascends toward the Sun on the breath of Earth


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