Solid foundations are slowly built,
stone on stone, day after day, fitting without shift or seam
to bear the weight of the future. Without such care it rocks,
crumbles, cascading in cacophony and clouds
of dust and debris; detritus destined for nothing but the tomb of dreams
of what might have been. And so she sits,
day after day, and so we watch, day after
day fitting ourselves to natures time, finding
ourselves and places in preparation for the day
after the day.
A month, no, more we watch her, wait, aware
of only waiting, and one another, as she sits,
as she broods, is fed, occasionally flies —
the waiting, brooding, maintained by mate until she returns
as constant as nature, as fitting as stones
in a careful foundation; obdurate granite in feathers
on a bed of twigs and grass.
Too long, this work; this foundation has no future
the student architects of nature tell us. It is over
before it has begun, there will be no glory raised from this cairn. She has
labored, waited, brooded in vain on barren eggs. The inconstant leave,
not fitted with the faith that such work must have a meaning,
that there is at heart purpose. Or is it us,
in spite of all that we know of buildings and birth,
who believe beyond calendars
that this patience must be rewarded?
She is a bird, no more, no less;
this her nest, her eggs, just three,
in unnatural surroundings yet well within
the course of nature. Why take this time, expense, harness
the fruit of human genius, to watch what nature has seen
a million times, successful and not? Our days, and days after days
fill with a concern she never knows; she only sits,
as birds have always sat, and waits,
as they have always waited. The rest is us. There is no meaning
without our presence; she does not care. She does not count the days
nor does she know it is (we have decided) all futile. Our concern for her future
is not hers; she merely sits, and waits for what will be. We worry ourselves
about what will not.
One day in May, or was it one night, without our eyes
without our presence, self-validating without our leave
the impossible pips its way to possibility; the future
arrives in fuzzy potential, purest white, and obsidian eyes.
Nature exults, and though it is just one of three
no greater care could be exhausted, no more self-giving service
could be imagined than what we witness. We are awed
by our ignorance, and rejoice in our failure. They merely
hunt for the food to rip it to pieces suitable to feed the future
going about their days, one after another,
building a foundation for future glory.
With this another story has begun, rather begun to take shape
on the foundation laid alongside; we are the stones, self-choosing,
fitting together, a community of watchers and learners and hopeful
for the beginnings we now celebrate. Communities are fragile things,
they need their feeding and their care, and if not built by another require
nonetheless that the stones fit, each in its place, discarding those which
disrupt the pattern, challenge the cohesion, upset the borning order.
The story has two lines, not parallel for they intersect yet not meeting either;
nature and human nature, observer and observers, who are in turn self-observing.
Community is born on the foundation of hope realized, expectation its framework.
The days pass, after one another, and yet one more;
did we ever watch the weather with such an eye, every storm a threat
to hope, and every dawn a new wonder? Are those really wings,
and that a beak? Will she be that big (she’ll never survive the harshness
of the city, so weak, tiny, dependent!) what good parents they are
and models for ourselves. What growth, is that a spot of color?
It is human to name names and so they are Violet, mother,
Bobby father-mate and now Pip. And we have become
Saidhbhin, pondove, Wiz and john nyc3, Hawk Talk and hawkheady,
jblum, Irene and Catskills, ncmd, mrmet and lilac, paulae, more …
some stones have been rejected,
socks cast aside without meaning or value, others did not choose to fit;
but some remain, are named or name themselves, all the same in the end.
Two stories, Pip’s and ours, life as it is ordained
and life as we create it for ourselves. Which is more natural? Which more real?
Hawk Lovers Anonymous, yet all named, fans of Pip, rejoicing in Pip
and in the family of fans as much. We barely rejoice alone.
The foundations have been laid, the structures grow,
separate but intertwined. Would we have existed without Violet? Are we her offspring
too? Or are we our own creation? Or something else, still to be named —
for it is all in the naming. Everything
Look! A tail feather! And she’s turning brown, who would have guessed
so fast, so fast … too cute, too precious, too much of a handful in the nest
and grasping at rats and clutching pigeons … covering her food,
mantling her wings, away, AWAY! I am the future and this
food ,this present, is MINE! I need to eat, give me room, give me more
when, when will these wings
jump jump, hop, grasp and tear and pull
Hatchling dreams in adolescence are riots of blood-sating and soaring
free of sticks and stolid rock, no ledge, just edge
beyond this tame park, for all that it is wild enough
to have borne me and fed me,
I am hawk
Feed me, more, now,
my right …
hop, hop and…
sleep. Tomorrow and the day after and the day
after each new, stronger, but now, now
Comfort me under the shadow of your wings, shield me
from all danger and woe til hawk-grown, and in return
I will leave, and in return, will not return. I will be hawk
and lone will mate when and where I chose
not here, never here. You will compete with your grandchildren
and our families will be strangers.
Faster, life races within me; did you, when I was young,
preen me and feed me, beak to beak, hard kisses
but softly done, sweet meat and tender? You, now silent
and watchful, distant already … you know I will leave
and you ready me. How do you ready yourself? Will I do the same,
when my turn comes, when the day after the day after I sit,
waiting, to rear and say goodbye? Will I know you then?
As if a hawk could understand or consider
being a hawk; it might as well have feelings for mice andother
soft and tasty things. Yet our minds have no such problem imagining
and feed our fantasies with our own frailties and fears, finding meaning
where none exists. We recognize in one another the truth of that.
Recognizing, we make each other real. Your fears are mine, dear, yet in the end
we are all left alone, remembering a community built upon a ledge
in a quiet building
on the edge of a park.
Violet and Bobby, marvelous Pip, have given us nothing
we did not possess. The Gray Lady served them up for our delectation
deciding we deserved them, unknowing what they would become,
what we would do, what we would become. Indeed, who knew
this New York moment would become thousands of hours
enough time and energy and native wit expended
to repair the budget
or send a man
to clean the windows. They need it now,
and the walls; to our eyes only for to the hawks
(not ours, never ours, but in themselves whole)
it is just a place, to be left, returned to again for more of the same
for the wait, another year, day after day. It nears the end of its season
having served its purpose and given us ours.
Unlike the allotted time of the end of creation (we missed that,
somehow, seeing the world created anew
in front of our eyes) the allotted end
draws nearer, day after day, numbered in so many weeks
or days from the beginning, when Pip
becomes full-fledged, as she must, and leaves, as she must, and we
remain … where? Eliot (T.S.) wrote that in our beginning
is our ending. Do we begin again, or merely spend our days
after days and months, waiting for beginning again? Communities are
fragile things, no matter their base. Rents and rifts,
under-currents, cross-currents and all manner of things
bereft them of purpose and, with loss of purpose, meaning.
Can any foundation be so artfully laid as to shore up hope
when hope fulfills its promise and flies, untrammeled, never to return?
There is very little choice for hawks. Breed, brood, fledge and leave, eat when possible
and sleep when full, one year to the next. They do not worry about their ending,
it comes soon enough. They do not question their beginning; it simply is,
they simply are. Their beginning is their ending and neither
is wondered at. That is not to say that they are not individual, distinct,
have characteristics that would pass for personality,
not merely creatures of instinct and gene. But the hawk
is not reflective, the creature does not ask or wonder
of beginnings and endings. Hawks travel far,
but they do not journey.
Does our journey end, then, together with Pip, leaping off a ledge into
hope and future in parts and places unknown? How human to ask
and how human to wonder for we journey, alone
of all species no matter how far they travel. Most sad
and true, alone too often amongst our own;
our journeys are solitary things.
How could they be else, for language is always one’s own
and one’s hearing only echoes of one’s self. We have heard ourselves
in hawks, our hopes in their eyes, our love in their constancy,
our wish for freedom in their wings. Small wonder that we share
this journey so deeply with others
who hear themselves in hawks
and find themselves awake
above a small park
waiting for dawn, again, day after day. Perhaps we learn,
in silent watching, to hear each other;
Let the journey continue,
day after day; time, patience and grace
and a new dawn, always.
george campbell (eliotts)