Saturday, September 27, 2008

American Kestrel


Though you were watching me,
I neither ate nor drank, but what
you saw was a vision.

-Tobit 12:19

Atop the pole, a kestrel.
The field? Not yet green,
though it was a day between storms
and the sun was doing its work.
I was resting in the light-filled air
and the cottonwoods along the river
were letting go their cottony seeds––
wind blowing, trees letting go.
The seeds were like angels, ascending
and descending in the breeze.
It was male, this kestrel,
with a steely crown and rufous breast
and false eyes at the nape of his neck.
His talons were maize, the yellow
of summer corn. I know this
because I have book of raptors,
a book that was written
for use in the field,
and every illustration, every word
is directed to that end.

The kestrel sang a kestrel's song.
Killy, killy are the words.
And the kestrel rose from the pole
kiting in the wind
to sing and search the field.
Though he was small as raptors go,
he seemed a great angel
wheeling among cherubim, searching
with his true eyes.
I did not so much see as dream this––
how the kestrel wheeled
in the blue air,
then struck the field in a flurry of wings.
Yes, the kestel killed the mouse.
I knew before I saw the bird
lift the body and tear the flesh.
The little king at work in the field, lifting
the body and tearing the flesh.

The body seemed a great weight.
The blood stained the kestrel's talons
and his rufous red breast. The blood
made true his killy, killy song.
But the angels went on, rising
and falling in the blue air.
They could not stop what was written
but kept their watch.
Yes, the blood watered the field
and the grass grew green.
The field, the field at least,
was grateful for this.

-Greg Rappleye