That summer morning years ago
We saw a red-tailed hawk
Descending from some pines
Across this scroll of riverbed.
His talons clutching writhing prey,
His plumage spread against
A shaft of swirling air,
We saw him slowly rise again.
That circling image calls us back
As strangers now, to drift
Beneath these trees, this sky,
To wonder where the river leads.
We tie our rotting skiff along
A fringe of wooded shore,
Survey a massive sky
For hours for pinions, talons, beak.
A vagrant sun recedes behind
A line of reddened hills.
At dusk, let down and cold,
We slowly row the skiff downstream,
Then make our way to camp as night
Reclaims the river, pines.
Without a word exchanged
We pack the old sedan and leave.
We saw a sign among these woods
That morning years ago,
An emblematic bird
Abreast of water, earth and sky.
If we can hoard its symmetry
Against the whorl of time,
Perhaps it was enough
To know that feathered splendor once.
T.S. Kerrigan recently retired from the law after a convincing victory in the United States Supreme Court and serving as the President of the Irish-American Bar Association. He is an accomplished poet and playwright and is a former theater critic and longtime member of The Los Angeles Drama Critic’s Circle. His plays “Branches Among the Stars” (concerning the youth of James Joyce) was presented at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, and “A Thorn in the Heart,” a treatment of incest in Ireland was presented successfully at the Globe Playhouse. His poetry has been in too many journals in England, Ireland and America to list here. Former Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur described his poetry as “full of life, authority, playfulness, and good rhythms. Renowned poet X.J. Kennedy, former Poetry Editor of Paris Review, has hailed his work as a “rich and vivid collection admirable for the verve of its language-handling.” His poetry is included in many anthologies including Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems (Viking-Penguin 2002), Off the Record (U. of West Virginia 2004), In the West of Ireland (Lisselton, County Kerry 1992), and several others. His latest book, My Dark People was published in April 2008.