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Praise

                                    C. Dale Young


The hawk need not measure distance.
It need not estimate the time from drift or glide
to the lightning bolt necessary to pluck
the chick from the edge of the yard.
God’s cleanest predator—its beak is perfect,

its talons perfect, its hunger and its manipulation
of air perfect. You have to respect the hawk.
Over the field, I watch one circle and circle
tracing the symbol for infinity. Even at this
distance, I can see the rustle in the grass

that betrays not the wind but an animal.
From the movement of the long grass, I
predict rodent, field rat. And when the infinite,
the connecting circles of sway and glide
become lightning, become strike, it happens

in mere seconds. One spies the rodent’s shape
clutched in the talons of that incredible machine.
We all have talents, gifts some call them.
Some of us live out our entire lives
blissfully unaware of these so-called gifts.

I can measure distance. I can estimate
the distance from thing to another,
from hawk to the terra firma of the field,
from one person to another. This is what
someone with wings does when he knows

he cannot fly. I respect the hawk. It
is a machine, God’s cleanest predator, God’s
gentle reminder. When my shy hunter stands
at the edge of the field, I scan the distance between us. 
I wish to be silent in this air. I wish to be lightning.


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