It had been easy once—
a dozen effortless strokes—just the right attitude of wings,
climbing the wind as a child climbs a wave,
floating upward, just catching the crest,
then turning downwind
for the easy glide.
conserving every measure of energy,
(a small movement below worth investigating)
Old Hawk turns back, once again, into the wind,
and struggles to gain altitude.
Worn tendons and weary muscles struggle.
Nothing is easy anymore.
instinct is intact,
eyesight is pretty good,
and he is hungry.
Field Mouse emerges, warily,
from the cool safety of his den
beneath an abandoned wall.
Life, of a different kind, has been here.
It is his inheritance now.
He switches his way a brief distance
into the fading afternoon,
little ripples of skin moving up and down his back,
feinting here—darting there,
checking for any sign of danger.
It is a little early for him,
and he knows the grain is gone,
but maybe there is something,
and he is hungry.
The tiny movement keenly spotted,
(surprised by its audacity,
but fine-tuned to its possibility),
the old hawk
marshals aging resources.
Lately he has been settling
for defenseless bugs,
a small snake, perhaps,
but even they are dwindling.
The pickings are lean for an old hawk,
and the seven-year drought
is everyone's enemy.
A slow calculated turn—
Downwind glide now—
not too fast,
timing has to be perfect—
flare the wings a touch—
tail feathers down just so,
just enough drag—
glide path skimming over the old piled stones—
he hasn't sensed me yet—
six more feet—
Field Mouse knows something is wrong.
He checks and re-checks
sniffing the air,
whiskers at full sensitivity,
trembling body attuned to every possible threat.
Generations of spontaneous reaction
whisk him four inches to the left.
feathers and fur
a vortex of dust and tiny pebbles
Each takes a moment to evaluate the scene.
One takes longer than the other.
Field Mouse zips back under the piled stones.
Old Hawk limps away a few yards
and hungry still—
flaps weary wings,
How many tomorrows will there be?
The Anasazi left sometime before,
when they still could.