ROBERT DeMOTT’S poetry has appeared in many journals, including Ontario Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Hiram Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review, Lake Effect, Windsor Review, and elsewhere. His collections include News of Loss (1994), The Weather in Athens (2001), winner of the Ohioana Poetry Award, and Brief and Glorious Transit: Prose Poems (2007). His most recent books are Angling Days: A Fly Fisher’s Journals (2016), and Conversations with Jim Harrison, Revised and Updated (2019). From 1969 to 2013 he taught at Ohio University, where he received half a dozen teaching awards. He serves on the editorial board of Steinbeck Review, and directorial board of Quarter After Eight, a literary journal. He lives in Athens, Ohio, with Kate Fox, poet and editor.
DeMott’s collection of prose poems, Up Late Reading Birds of America, is forthcoming from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in January 2020. Pre-order now: https://sheilanagigblog.com/sheila-na-gig-editions/
“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.