'Lancelot and Guinevere' by Herbert Draper

Four Hawks

by 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?