I sing of those things I see right now:
a chance sighting of a praying mantis,
seeking prey in the waning light of the evening,
and then in the bright star of a solitary light,
making mincemeat of any wandering bug or moth,
not far from where the tree frog takes its nightly harmonic station;
and not to forget the possum scurrying past my tent
to find a quick hiding place under a palm bush.
And earlier in the afternoon. the symphonic solo of some unknown bird
who evaded the lenses of my binoculars,
whose melodies Mozart on an inspired day
might come close to finding.
Not to mention the cricket somewhere in the leaves,
whose songs he plays to another,
which must win her heart every night,
as he certainly does my own.
Despite my love for those, it was the hawk, yesterday,
that caught my concerted attention as he posed, poised
on top of a flag pole, the very round top.
Imposing, clearly dangerous, to those on the ground,
in the trees, or in flight with its own binocular vision,
hooked beak. and ready talons of death.
There that hawk sat for long long minutes
surveying its field that it could quite easily conquer,
given its whims or tastes at that moment;
when on a branch not five feet away from that ominous bird,
appeared a bright red cardinal, not quietly,
but vociferously calling, and not only that,
hopping even closer, branch to branch, to that grand bird of prey.
What that songbird had on its mind I’ll never know,
why he put himself at such risk,
your guess is as good as mine.
Cardinals build nests in shrubbery not tall oak trees,
but this one certainly had some reason for actions
that certainly looked hazardous to my human eyes.
And so it gained my respect, focus, and admiration,
at the same time remaining heedful of the hawk
and all it portends, perhaps for me,
bringing up for examination what lessons are being taught here.
Yet, the scene didn’t change.
It was still the hawk and the lone cardinal.
Squirrels, fearful, hid in their nests,
doves, had ceased their mourning,
huddling soundlessly in cedar trees.
No crows came to the rescue.
They must have been faraway in that moment in time,
driving away perhaps other predators, an owl, another hawk,
or an osprey that threatened their world.
It was only the songbird that remained to interfere,
to protest the presence of this real danger.
Only the singing bird,
the cardinal who shows up, often when we least expect it,
sometimes after twilight is falling and darkness is fast upon us;
there he or she appears, perched on a tender stem,
announcing the coming night upon all in the world.
Always in song, always with the cheer they bring.
The hawk finally flew off from its perch,
having never launched an attack—
and only the songbird remained.