what began as year-long challenge has become perpetual until further notice
My Heart is a Hawk
In the dream of olive stands, I walk
with eyes sharpened to stance and stalk,
and suddenly my freed heart is a red-brown hawk
who hovers, plummets, changes tack
she tastes the sweet and salt
even before she preys, the jolt
of a life sent sideways, the guilt, the fault,
the fear the joy – nothing quite so white and black,
and nothing that can be seen from above
no matter how I squint; and learns that love
should always be mistaken for the rough shove
of fright from the touch of nettle on the small of the back
My soul is an orange fox
the daydreamer who leaves her socks
in guest rooms, her head elsewhere. Her watchfulness mocks
the real world though her doubts kite
the sky till the heart who is hawk takes
them and holds them and rakes
the land into neat rows of vine and orchard, and breaks
amongst them as she hangs, falls from her height,
folded, an arrow, taut and angled,
the pull of accipitrine tendon and the crouch of fox, tangled
into one and the same, bleeding and mangled
and ecstatic to see, across the valley, such insurgence of light.
My head is a yellow-haired hound
ears pricked always for the low sound
of disappointment, nose diligent to the ground
when all she wants to do is run,
stretch out over a threshold of a thousand fools
but yokes herself all the same to her own set of rules –
Ah, but to run in the shade that cools
as it cuts a hawk-shaped wedge between hound and sun,
and to dance with the orange fox and her stake
in the claim to the mute mountains and lake
that last night stood jury and heard the end take
root, saw the melding of three clouded beasts into a bright and shining one.
The Balassi form has 12 lines per stanza and a rhyme scheme of a,a,a,b / c,c,c,b / d,d,d,b, and so on. As it is a song form, there are usually two or more stanzas. I think I’ve been fairly liberal with my use of syllables!
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