Late Afternoon at Point Reyes

by Celeste Newbrough

Dunes simmer, bulrushes guard the gray gold emptiness
of the Pacific coast summer. I lounge face upward with
outstretched arms. Peace like the River Lethe
courses through my veins.
Slicing through the stillness, slicing the shore in two:
sudden scream of a tiny creature, a long piercing shriek.
Hawk soars upwards to the bluff holding in its talons
the captured titmouse. Blue-angel wings
circle atop a Monterey pine. There the hawk lands.
The shriek subsides to silence. Sun swelling over the horizon,
pregnant with fog, casts a bronze halo over the scene.
What strikes me about the creature’s cry is not the pain
of being clawed, shaken, nor the wonder of being taken up
in the hawk’s great flight.
What strikes me is the grief, the sense of failure.
The infant’s call to mother.
Turning over, running the sand through my hands, I think
it’s time to beat the encroaching dark.
On the path back, evening spreads its purple cloak.
I hear the titmouse whisper:
Hear me, stranger.
I am now called Hawk.