Tuesday April 05, 2011

The porch is sleek with blown rain. Just past dawn I glimpse a small hawk circling low over the trees—long-tailed accipiter, a dark cross.


  1. heh heh – I just read this and thought it said your porch was slick with brown rain. Guess my eyes are not awake yet!

    Which led to this:

    the porch is sleek with brown rain.
    the hemlocks are fluffy with white snow
    the yard is pokey with blades of green grass
    the sky is gray – no yellow sun today

  2. Accipiter

    The porch is sleek with blown rain. Just past dawn
    I glimpse a northern harrier over the wrack:
    a long-tailed accipiter, a pale cross.

    What brought her here from Sauvie’s Island?
    She flies straight and stubborn as an oared galley
    looking to ram the recycling center,

    At the last minute climbing over and vanishing,
    dark at last, a quick black score against the sky.

    Accipiter, accepter, one who takes, receives, or grasps:
    my offering is a catch of the throat, of splayed toes
    on cold painted wood, the wrinkling forehead

    of a gray-muzzled ape, glad to wake to
    an uncertain Spring, glad to rise on one knuckled fist
    from a warm nest, and to see a messenger

    on an unknown errand from an island of farms
    south to the rain-worn marshes.

    1. Dale, my friend, a northern harrier is not even close to being an accipter, neither in looks, classification or behavior.

      1. really? I was told harriers are accipiters. shoot.

      2. And in fact, having looked it up, wikipedia and so forth seem to agree with me. Order Falconiformes, family accipitridae, doesn’t that make it an accipiter?

      3. Oh, I see! theres an accipitridae and a genus accipiter. Well, that’s silly. & there goes my poem. Phooey.

          1. Or you could just turn the observation into a question:

            “The porch is sleek with blown rain. Just past dawn
            I glimpse a northern harrier over the wrack;
            or is it a long-tailed accipiter, a pale cross?”

          2. Hmm. Tempting writhes, both of these. I think I’ll have to go with a bird I actually know, to salve my obscure poetic conscience. If I’ve ever seen a goshawk I didn’t know it. I like your solution, Louisa, but it introduces a new swerve into the poem, & I don’t know if it can hold that.

        1. The thing is, harriers flap low over fields, and don’t have the long, straight tails. I was almost certainly seeing the resident Cooper’s hawk this morning, but we have the very similar-looking sharp-shinned hawks, too, so I called it an accipiter just to be safe. (Not that anyone cares, but I try to keep my entries as accurate as possible. Thus I didn’t specify which local winter-resident kinglet species it was in yesterday’s post, either, though chances are good they were ruby-crowned.)

          1. That’s why I was so surprised by this bird’s purposefulness — from the little I know of harriers they’re low-hunting, loitering sorts of birds. But I don’t know much about any of them. I suppose really it’s the same poem if it’s a cooper’s or a sharp-shinned. I might just have thought this was a northern harrier because I love that name so much; you might just as well say “viking” :-)

  3. Glint

    *What is a little thing like time?* Raptor,
    captor, still you distress me with your
    catalogue of titles: black-mantled, white-
    bellied, red-thighed, chestnut-flanked,
    collared, sharp-shinned harrier. The edges
    of days spread across the land, their span
    forming the shadow of a cross. With each
    of your appearances, I startle and don’t
    completely recover. Deep in the grass, see
    where I sift, searching for my own lost names.

    ~ Luisa A. Igloria
    04 05 2011

    1. Oh, how wonderful. How wonderful. see where I sift.

  4. Dave, am I supposed to be using that trackback thingie, instead of posting both here and at mole? I always think those little buttons are going to blow up, but I guess that’s actually improbable :-)

    1. Don’t sweat it. I don’t think Google punishes for duplicative content if the first instance is a comment. The only reason to use the trackback is if you want the link to show up in the comment stream — I don’t believe Blogger does pingbacks automatically the way other WordPress blogs do.


    A dark cross casts its shadow over the valley,
    but the blown rain breaks buds burnt like ashes
    on the forehead of the land—this is a desert
    where fear and pain thrive; only these twins
    will grow out of the oases of blood let out
    by blades broken into each brother’s bones:
    crosses have lost their balm here, where
    houses are better off without porches anymore.

    —Albert B. Casuga
    04-05-11 Mississauga, ON

    1. I love this gorgeous, over-the-top alliteration:

      by blades broken into each brother’s bones

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