Sheila-Na-Gig online wishes all our poetry contributors and readers much happiness for this holiday season. Many best wishes for all of your creative endeavors in 2020! Enjoy this holiday poem by Robert DeMott, whose book of prose poems, Up Late Reading Birds of America, will be published by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in January.
Pre-order at: https://sheilanagigblog.com/sheila-na-gig-editions/
DeMott’s poem appears in our Winter 2019 issue of Sheila-Na-Gig online. Read all of our fine contributors at: https://sheilanagigblog.com/
“My heart in hiding/Stirred for a bird….”
––Gerard Manley Hopkins, “The Windhover”
In a funk just days before Christmas,
holiday shopping lagging weeks behind,
head crammed with lists of wants and must-haves
and me eager to make a deal at every turn,
not thinking of spreading joy and bringing cheer,
as well I should have, but about paying less than
I thought I should for more than I knew I needed
in the world of commerce and lucre, when,
by dumb luck or maybe fate––I’ll never know––
I caught that morning morning’s marauder,
not Hopkins’ dauphin, his “dapple-dawn” kestrel,
but a bully Cooper’s hawk, sleek feathered assassin,
daggering through trees in snow-decked woods
behind our house, hot on the tail of a cardinal,
my beloved’s favorite bird, scared witless.
I ran out waving my arms and shouting not now
you heathen, you unbeliever, not in this cherished season….
I yelled and yelled, but the sound of my voice
was just a rasp in all that wintery bluster.
The more I shouted, the more the hawk hawked on
as only a hungry hawk can, and I––chastened
by a trance of talon, blood, and feather fall––
went inside and wrote these lines.
This makes me so sad. A feeble attempt at salvation. But nature being nature. Great poem! Hard to get back to “the season” after that!