Friday, December 28, 2012

Poem of the Week: Patricia Monaghan

Red-Tailed Hawk    

Just past dawn in early fall,
a sparrow screamed at me
as I walked into the woods.

I did not grasp the warning.

Beside the dry creekbed,
I stopped at the shore
of a dark pool of silence.

At its center, a hawk.

Five feet away, chevrons
and arrows on his chest,
talons and beak like knives.

He stared at me. I stared at him.

At that moment, to the east,
men were debating ways to kill.
In the forest, deadly beauty.

I had never seen a hawk so close.

He looked left and right, his beak
a cruel and graceful curve.
His chest heaved in a breath, a sigh.

He flew straight at me.

I could not move. His wings
were as wide as I am tall.
I simply stood and waited.  

He veered away,

alighted in a nearby tree.
Wonder filled me, rushing in
like water down a dry streambed.

Hawk, I whispered, hawk,

and stared straight at him,
into his hard eyes.
Hawk, my heart sang, hawk,

a word of death and life

in balance, a word of death  
and hunger and fierce pain
and beauty and devouring.

I spoke the name of one

who wastes no life, who knows no
anger, whose strength is pure, whose
only weapon is his feathered self.

Hawk, I whispered, hawk. 

-Patricia Monaghan

from Homefront (WordTech Editions, 2005). 
Used by permission.

Patricia Monaghan (1946-2012) died on November 11, 2012 in her Wisconsin home, Brigit Rest, in the arms of her beloved husband Michael McDermott. Homefront is a collection about the effect of war on veterans' return to their families and the damage to both. Patricia was a poet, scholar, spiritual pioneer and practitioner, activist, gardener and endlessly energetic creator. 

Patricia co-founded the Black Earth Institute with Michael and recently co-founded the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology. The Institute is dedicated to artists serving the causes of inclusive spirituality, healing and protecting the earth and social justice. Patricia published over 20 books including many of poetry.  She was awarded a Pushcart Prize among many others. She was also an active supporter of Split This Rock.

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If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.   

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