Thursday, December 10, 2009


A red-tailed hawk swooped low over my car as I drove out of the park this morning. She was diving for some unfortunate something cowering in the ditch along the road. I didn’t stop to see if she succeeded—but only because I was in a hurry. I don’t mind the bloodshed. I love watching hawks kill things. I get queasy at the sight of a cat dispatching a mouse, and I even feel a little sorry for the bugs that get caught in spider webs, but the bloodlust of raptors is beautiful to me. I think it is the hawk’s single-mindedness I like. Mammalian predators are so unfocused by comparison. Even when they (we) are actively stalking something, distraction comes easily. Not so for the hawk. Once she zeroes in on her victim, she never waivers. She’s pure killing machine. I aspire to her perfect sense of purpose.

Into the changes of autumn brush
the doe walked, and the hide, head, and ears
were the tinsel browns. They made her.
I could not see her. She reappeared, stuffed with apples,
and I shot her. Into the pines she ran,
and I ran after. I might have lost her,
seeing no sign of blood or scuffle,
but felt myself part of the woods,
a woman with a doe’s ears, and heard her
dying, counted her last breaths like a song
of dying, and found her dying. ...

From "To Kill a Deer" by Carol Frost. The complete poem is here.

Photo by John Harrison from Wikimedia Commons.