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Red Tailed Hawk

 On the way to work I noticed a large bird by the side of Rt 66.   On a sudden impulse I pulled over.   It was a large red tailed hawk decked in a gorgeous mane of white and brown feathers.  One inch claws clenched, his yellow eyes closed, his body crumpled ….face down in the asphalt.   Eighteen wheelers roared by, their backwash ruffling his feathers.  Wearing work gloves I placed the hawk on the car floor, as I leave a young female red tailed hawk, glided by low, as if saying goodbye to her mate.  Two more young hawks watched from the trees.

For the rest of the day I drove around with his body.  The only scent was the smell of fall leaves.  Perhaps it was my imagination but I felt I heard the ever so faint whisper of my Native ancestors as I drove.   Arriving home I gently placed his body in the shed, to keep the wandering dogs away.

Sunday night, when it was dark I lit a bundle of desert sage and approached the hole I had earlier dug.   I laid him in that shallow grave, chanting a sacred mantra….. as the nearly full moon rose directly overhead in the clear starlit sky.   As faint wisps of sage smoke lingered, I played the wooden flute softly, then with my bare hands buried this beautiful creature.

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