by Theodora Goss
Once, there was a man who was also a falcon.
I do not know
if he had been a falcon in a previous life
or if at night he transformed into a falcon
or if in dreams he flew over pine forests
in falcon form.
All I know
is that when I looked into his eyes
I saw the falcon there:
the curved beak, the wild stare,
long pinions for soaring down the wind
that blows from mountain peaks covered with snow
into the valleys below.
When he turned, it was with a swift,
unexpected grace, like the memory of circling aloft,
and when he spoke I could hear the echo
of a falcon’s keening cries.
What do you say to a falcon man?
You cannot say: I know what you are,
I know how quickly you dive,
how abruptly you bank and fall,
winged knife, air-cleaver.
I know how from up there
life looks small, and freedom
is the only essential element.
I know how your presence defines
the firmament: it is all the blue
spaces that are not you.
What would he say? Would he laugh
dismissively, then turn away?
Or fix me with his eyes,
as though I were a hare
hiding among the meadow grasses, flicking my ears,
listening for sounds of danger? It would be
that I had seen and understood
what was, if not necessarily
what it meant.
(The image is by Ohara Koson.)