Four Hawksby Mary Kay Rummel
The four black hawks circling above the freeway at twilight must be the four lost brothers of that girl who's walking across the stacked fields carrying her father's ring bunched up in a handkerchief, a wooden stool, a loaf of bread, and a beaker of water in case she gets thirsty. But it's so hard to keep an eye on her as she stumbles across fallow fields and overgrown forests with her hands full of household objects that even her brothers have lost sight of her. They beat their wings and call out their hoarse signal-cry, "kri-i, kri-i." Perhaps they're saying, "sister, sister" in their dark syllables. Or perhaps like real hawks this is their favorite hunting hour when the rabbits and rodents come out to browse in the rustling weeds and bits of violet cloud break away and drift over the river. They balance right above us. We crane our necks to watch them and the sky sucks us into a place so high we forget who we are and what century and what country and what village we belong to and what our names are and what this longing is that seems to swallow all other longings. Then the oldest brother breaks the circle and heads east with the others in his wake. If they've spotted her, or a distant tree branch, or the twitching of a shadow has given them a lead, we'll never know. In seconds we can see black dots spinning over the St. Croix River into Wisconsin pines and we wonder if by now their sister has reached the end of the world and entered the cavern where the hawk brothers sleep and if she'll have time to drink a sip of wine from each of the four beakers and slip her father's ring into the last. And in which country has she left her cumbersome stool, and where has she waylaid her own beaker? And why, when the four hawks cleave through the evening sky and disappear, does the air seem to fill and throb with the light of their leave taking, as if it were us they were leaving behind?