(Loosely after TH)
I sit in the leaves of the bottomland, sharp eyes
Scanning the ground. I must not breathe, not move,
Or I will miss the chance to snatch up in my beak
What blind mouse might come through this duff.
No movement from two hundred feet is lost to me,
And I can close that distance in one second to kill,
And still I could not see the thin fence meant
To keep out geese whose goslings I had eaten.
The squirrel gathering acorns for the winter
At the water’s edge looked easy, oblivious, and fat.
I dropped like a stone, claws out and readying,
And that claw creation shaped to snap caught not
The rodent’s head but the invisible webbing.
Squirrel flinched but felt only the soft-feathered
Underside of me and jumped back into the woods.
I lay upside down in my shit splashed on a rock.
The sun grew hot and beat down on me the first day.
The second day it rained. On the third day the man
And his wife (who know nothing of hunting and fear
Death) arrived to swim and stumbled upon me.
I was delirious with thirst. They covered my head
And cut my foot free. But when I came to and rose
Into the trees, I could not find balance. I was broken
And fluttered precariously on each wing, afraid
I would fall. Lake below. Forest within reach. I dropped
And angled for the floor I had once scorned. No more.
No more surveying from my perch. No more twist and
Dive and lift out again to live. I rot here like the rest.
Winner of the 2021 Poetry Chapbook Contest
Andrew Krivak is the author of three novels, a previous chapbook of poems, and two works of nonfiction. His debut novel, The Sojourn, was a 2011 National Book Award finalist and winner of both the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for fiction and the Chautauqua Prize. His second novel, The Signal Flame, was a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize. His most recent novel, The Bear, received the Banff Mountain Book prize for fiction and was also a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize. His chapbook Islands: Poems was published by The Slapering Hol press in 1999. As a scholar and a writer of nonfiction, Krivak is the editor of The Letters of William Carlos Williams to Edgar Irving Williams, 1902-1912, which won the Louis Martz prize for scholarly research on William Carlos Williams, and the author of the memoir A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life. Ghosts of the Monadnock Wolves will be his second short volume of poems. His new novel Like the Appearance of Horses is forthcoming in 2023. Krivak lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Massachusetts, and Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Please visit his website at www.AndrewKrivak.com.