THE AUDUBON GUIDE TO RELATIONSHIPS, PLATE No. 142
(American Sparrow Hawk)
There is want, and there is not knowing
what to want—
the forested remains of a carcass
still warm from the kill,
the hand over the mouth,
the sharpened switch across the back of your thigh.
You are on your knees praying
yet not knowing what to pray for,
having forgotten the vernacular of prayer.
There are sparrow-hawks clenching sparrows
in their beaks,
their necks broken and dangling like violence,
their bodies upside-down, held in a tree
that contains seedpods and fern-leaves,
other hawks with bluer wings,
wings that span the width of a branch
and are only believable in paintings.
THE AUDUBON GUIDE TO RELATIONSHIPS, PLATE No. 147
This time, it happened in the north,
someplace where people lose their bearings
after the solstice because everything is dark for days
and the thick of the forest resembles
the disemboweled cavity of a deer
or a tanker that was meant to carry fuel
across state lines,
the sound of what some may describe as
the hard grind of an engine
and what others might say is simply
the hardening of the heart,
something that taxes your resting idle
like the rush of a night hawk
chasing bees into extinction,
one yellow and one black,
both tinged with the sweetness of maple leaves.
Rosemarie Dombrowski is the founder of rinky dink press, an editor at Four Chambers Press, and the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ. She is the recipient of four Pushcart nominations, an Arts Hero Award, and a fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies, which was the recipient of a 2016 Human Relations Indie Book Award, and The Philosophy of Unclean Things. She teaches courses on the poetics, women’s literature, and ethnography at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus.