The Harris hawk is sleek and fast; fine-boned,
she swoops free from an armoured glove
towards some distant, perfect perch,
only then to see and hear the falconer's call; to search,
then sweep down to the hand that feeds and nurtures.
A hooded hostage; in restless freedom she presents a bleeding dove.
Trimmed hawks hunt in packs on Argentine pampas,
ride invisible waves, feathers barely flicking,
muscles hardly twitching. London birds dip to wary pigeons in Eaton Square,
not to kill, you understand, but merely to scare,
'cause baronets with polished rollers don't appreciate the 'rats of the air,'
not to mention the Belgravian hauteur of hunting raptors, eyes softly ticking ...
Though never working weekends, she's getting on in years;
time has slowed her patchy wingbeats. With the dimming of her eagle eye,
she'll rely too much on sliding, slipping, failing zephyrs
for inert locomotion on arthritic wings, worse in arctic weather;
her first-strike kills less balanced now (more practice in the tether).
One day soon the falconer will wring her neck, and cry.
Such fate awaits both hunter and hunted,
sharing ironic eyries on tall West London parapets.
The great and good, some in pairs, most alone
at home in solitary splendour (the kids have flown);
their owners cradling silent avalanches of sadness, grown
of days and years chasing fleeting shadows, crushed before a weeping sunset.