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Hawk by Keki Nasserwanji Daruwalla

I saw the wild hawk-king this morning
riding an ascending wind
as he drilled the sky.
The land beneath him was filmed
with salt:
Grass-seed, insect, bird—
nothing could thrive here. But he was lost
in the momentum of his own gyre,
a frustrated parricide
on the kill.
The fuse of his hate was burning still.
But in the evening he hovered above
the groves, a speck of barbed
Crow, mynah and pigeon roosted here
while parakeets flew raucously by.
And then he ran amok,
a rapist in the harem of the sky.
As he went up with a pigeon
Skewered to his heel-talon
he scanned the other birds, marking out their fate,
the ones he would scoop up next,
those black dregs in the cup of his hate!
The tamed one is worse, for he is touched by man.
When snared in the woods
his eyelids are sewn with silk
as he is broken to the hood.
He is momentarily blinded, starved.
Then the scar over his vision is perforated.
Morsels of vision are fed to his eyes
as he is unblended stitch by relenting stitch.
Slowly the world re-forms:
mud walls, trees burgeon.
His eye travels like the eye of the storm.
Discovering his eye
and the earth and sky
with it, he leaps from earth to ether.
Now the sky is his eyrie.
He ferocious floats on splayed wings;
then plummets like a flare,
smoking, and then a gust of feathers
proclaims that has struck.
The tamed one is worse, for he is touched by man.
Hawking is turned to a ritual, the predator’s
passion honed to an art;
as they feed the hawk by carving the breast
of the quarry bird and gouging out his heart.
They have flushed him out of the tall grasses,
the hare, hunted now
in pairs by mother hawk and son.
They can’t kill him in one fell swoop.
But each time the talons cart away
a patch of ripped fur.
He diminishes, one talon-morsel at a time.
He is stunned by the squall of wings above.
His heart is a burning stable
packed with whinnying horses.
His blood writes stories on the scuffed grass!
His movements are a scribble on the page of death.
I wouldn’t know when I was stolen from the eyrie
I can’t remember when I was ensnared.
I only know the leather disc
which blots out the world
and the eyelids which burn with thwarted vision.
Then the perforations, and yet
the blue iris of heaven does not come through.
I can think of a patch of blue sky
when shown a blue slide.
But I am learning how to spot the ones
crying for the right to dream, the right to flesh,
the right to sleep with their own wives—
I have placed them. I am sniffing
The air currents, deciding when to pounce.
I will hover like a black prophecy
weaving its moth-soft cocoon of death.
I shall drive down
with the compulsive thrust of gravity,
trained for havoc,
my eyes focused on them
like the sights of a gun.
During the big drought that is surely going to come
the doves will look up for clouds, and it will rain hawks.

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