Bio Note: I am a retired community newspaper journalist living in the mountains of Virginia with my husband and two border collies. I’ve been published in, among others, the North Carolina Literary Review, where one of my poems was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, on literary websites such as Streetlight.org and The Ekphrastic Reveiew, and won several awards from the Poetry Society of Virginia. Though I am well past retirement age, I am a relatively young poet, having just begun about seven years ago.
At the Hawk Watch
I step into their sanctuary an outsider curious, but they are quiet, and answers, when they come, are terse. They speak in ecclesiastical terms foreign to those not ensnared by their zeal, dazzling and disorienting at once. Oh, to be a part of such joy, to soar like the regal birds they admire: counting cataloguing, exclaiming, and it occurs to me then that theirs is just another doctrine of devotion, their passion ubiquitous but unique: they watch birds; my father collected stamps; bakers swap recipes and risen bread. All have their language, their saints and sinners, hallelujahs and amens, but few are ecumenical enough to see that while the faces of their gods differ, their call to worship is the same.
Sometimes, I wonder if they angered God, if once they had been his most regal birds, guardians of a high and holy place until some sin, a mighty fall from grace, for which he stripped their scarlet feather crowns and cast them out to scavenge on the ground, condemning them to feed upon the dead with rheumy eyes and hideous red heads. But when I watch them sail or dive and swoop, or see the reverent air with which they roost, I think upon their haj, their pilgrimage, from Pharisees to lowly penitents: modest monks in robes of chestnut brown, outstretched wings in worship of the dawn.
©2020 Priscilla Melchior
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