Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ode to Nimrod, a Ballad

An owl’s quick wing-beat silent as light

Sent two fledgling hawks out into the night

Orphaned and destitute, baby-fat carried

Them out into nothing but hunger’s hard bite.

They wandered far past the nest’s comforting view

Searched for anything edible, searched for the clue

That their parents’ short lives had endeavored to show,

How their powerful feet held the promise of food.

And nothing but thorns and mesquite and hot sand,

‘Til a kind-hearted human reached out his skilled hand,

And carried the two to his home’s bounty high,

Unrecognized hope buoyed their thin bellies’ band.

A phone call conveyed the news far, far away,

And another skilled human was soon on his way.

One’s world changed forever, in lands to the north,

But his brother soon languished and in the dust lay.

Nimrod was eager to do what induced

The man to produce a rich morsel of food.

He learned to come quickly to glove, lure and perch,

And to tolerate dogs, cars, TV and the hood.

Soon free again, flying along with his team

Of human and dogs and a beating stick lean,

He played at the game of hunting his prey,

And practiced his wing-beats from glove and high beam.

One day when the wind was especially strong,

A burst of it drove him all tumbling along,

Into a fence where starvation-weak bones,

Broke quickly and crippled his powerful toes.

The man’s friendly cohort and hunting companion

Was also skill-handed as veterinarian.

Soon the snapped bone was trussed up in a brace,

With two months of tedious recuperation.

Then six months of fat and full lazy days

Saw baby-hawk feathers soon all replaced

With noble clean feathers of nature’s full force

Of just what a Harris’ hawk’s world has to face.

New on his wings, and quick with his feet,

September’s winds saw him launching so fleet,

To learn the full force of a hawk’s fierce-some flight,

And to catch and to kill, to tear and to eat.

The chill of fall promises cold winter rains,

The speed of his wings and his quick-footed gains

A promise of greatness, deep from within,

To high-flying glory sometime to attain.

He learned to catch grasshoppers quick in the air,

He learned to catch rabbits and mice with great flare.

Ducks would dive back to the safety of ponds,

He even once chased a fleet-running deer.

He also re-challenged the owl’s darkest hours,

And pulled noisy grackles from roosts in great hordes,

A spot-light on pigeons ensconced under bridges

Directed his flight to their grey cement towers.

One day when the human, the dogs and our star

Had not managed to roust any prey near or far,

To satisfy urges to kill and to eat

Took our hero again to the pigeons’ high lair.

The first one would surely have flown free and clear

But the hawk turned and snagged it aloft in mid-air.

The second one also soon tumbled to ground,

In ten minutes’ time twice victorious he fared.

One last pigeon remained, and instead of retreat,

The human’s desire for an e’en greater feat

Pitched the hawk against darkness and cold springtime wind.

The pigeon dodged quickly and sealed the defeat.

Battle-trance thoughtlessness quickened the hawk’s gait,

Like the owl of his youth he drove hard in pursuit.

And the air turned him upward and into the way

Of an oncoming motorist servant of fate.

The man hoped against hope that the hawk had gone high

And managed to top the oncoming car’s flight.

But no quick show of wings, no motion at all,

So he climbed up the bank to find tragedy nigh.

The broken and twisted remains of his friend

Lay hard on the pavement too still and too bent.

He picked up the remains of a promise cut short

And quickly drove home before tears stained his hand.

In good time the brave hunter was laid to his rest

On the ranch where he reclaimed his raptor’s bequest.

On twice-borrowed time, he had thrice challenged fate,

And to the risk taken had given his best.

His grave received softly his human’s hard grief

Shared on the shoulders of two friends’ belief

That all things that are done in this world below

Will in God’s endless tapestry come to relief.

pm, 4-5-2011

1 comment:

karen said...

How beautiful. So sorry that he is no longer here with us.