Thank you, Hawk, for flapping
five times above my head.
For stopping my feet and breath
with your wings that brushed
the air so near my scalp
I heard your beak snap.
I wish you a good meal,
but I don’t want to watch
you pick at living meat
or feel you rushing me
down like the leaves
whispering onto noon lawns.
I know this sun-searing silence
is a kind of call and that I will
be yours one day. I accept
your circled blessing
on my head and surrender
but not quite yet. I’m not scoured
of all my wishes
nor helpless as a feather
falling up. Not yet ready
for the empty blue
or to be bone clean.
On Being a Fine Meal
Prowling around my cage,
you’re free, dark panther, and I’m contained
inside my fears. You’ve eaten
my marriage and career, a beloved dog.
My lovers and the money in my account,
a father and my childhood town.
Two vertebra and a foot.
What next do you want between
your relentless teeth?
Yet your inky fur ripples with my desire
for one more good season,
so I venture out, and come close enough
to touch your silk. No more reaching through
the bars. I dare a finger. Lose it
to your plush, and bleeding, glow.
This is want fulfilled for a flaming moment.
I know you want my whole arm
and then the other limbs. My cage’s shadows shine
with moonlight. Its dark beckons me back,
but you won’t let me sleep.
Suddenly I’m out of my slippers
and dancing so near, preparing
to become your finest meal.
But you’re busy chewing a gristly old dream
after all. I’ve only come out for a solo tango.
I thought I was a panther too,
but you stand on hind legs and unlatch
the cage. I go meekly back inside.
Rachel Dacus is the author of Gods of Water and Air, a collection of poetry, prose, and drama. Her poetry collections are Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau, and the spoken word CD A God You Can Dance. Her writing has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Drunken Boat, and Prairie Schooner. She’s currently at work on a novel involving the great Baroque sculptor, Gianlorenzo Bernini.