What I wanted was a goshawk on my wrist,
A docile bit of wilderness in my care.
Her setting-sun red eye returned my stare.
Inside the cage I am a nurse, waiter
And janitor. Outside, an austringer.
I searched for one all day in the forest.
Now Chiefly poet. Now Shakes. Now sing. Now rare.
I searched for one all day in the forest
So I could cross the bird off my life-list.
At the Center I fed her as you hold this
Poem: at a reading distance. The flared
Warning of her red eyes refuted my stare:
You will never cross me off your life-list.
Now rare. Now sing. Now Shakes. Now Chiefly poet.
You wanted a little bit of wilderness
Held docile on your wrist. What could be tamer
Than extinct? At the trail head, the profiled picture.
If you see this bird, call our 800- number.
Because except what you allow me there
Is no wilderness, there is no wilderness.
Now Chiefly poet. Now Shakes. Now sing. Now rare.
The California Hawking Club Apprentice Study Guide, Edited by Frederick W. Holderman.
1) True or false: Falconry hawks are trained to accept humans as their master and owner.
2) True or false: Hawks should not be made too tame but should be encouraged to retain their wild nature.
1) False. The point of falconry is to teach the hawk that hunting with one specific human leads to eating better than hunting alone in the wild.
2) False. Tameness is a point of refinement in the art of falconry, and serves as a measure of the confidence and trust she has in you.
For months I was stuck in Eugene,
stalled on how in the five centuries
But they that somtyme lykt my companye
Like lyse awaye from ded bodies thei crall:
But they that sometime liked my company
Like lice away from dead bodies they crawl
the lice blanched into grains
of rice scattered around a body
only dressed to be killed,
and how these college towns depress
your serotonin reuptake inhibitors,
as the rain slows to a thick mist
and an air like Ambien gums up your neurons.
Match diseases with treatment:
cramps chelating agents
frounce sugar water
lead poisoning sunlight/vitaminD3/vitamin B
seizures a variety of clean perches
sour crop ground up bones in food
stargazing a cool dark place and medical attention
Translate the following passage:
I went to the birds then,
for a language archaic as needed
and scientific as necessary,
for the shrill, screaming music
they are, and their elaborate syntax
of muscle and feather,
for the peregrine’s roused plumage
in the mews as she bowses
from a bowl of bath water or how
when she bates on my glove
her slate gray-blue wings strobe
over her pale barred breast
and her flying weight flutters
against the jesses,
for how the goshawk in yarak
bows forward, as if straining
against bad eyesight to read
the distance until slipped,
for how the Cooper’s hawk towers
over the field it is hard-wired to
as doves and robins sky-up,
for how the red-tail of my
apprenticeship after breaking in
the cottontail she was wedded to,
returned to my fist
to preen and to feak.
Rouse, to: When a hawk stands all her feathers on end at once and gives them a rattling shake. A sign of well being.
Mews: Any place where a hawk is kept at night or in bad weather.
Bowse, to: Drinking by a hawk. Hence boozer and boozing.
Bate, to: The wild jumping off and beating of wings while still held to perch or fist. May be caused by wildness, fright, boredom or plain temper.
Flying weight: The weight at which the hawk is healthy enough to fly and hunt, yet sufficiently hungry to respond to the falconer’s control. Also sharp set, keen and combat weight.
Yarak: an Indian term describing a savage state of extreme readiness to kill. A hawk in yarak adopts a certain unique posture which makes it appear especially dangerous.
Slip: A chance at quarry. To slip: to release a hawk in pursuit of quarry.
Tower, to: when a hawk rings up into the air vertically.
Sky-up, to: When a flock of birds take to the air in a flurry to escape an accipiter.
Break in: the act of breaking through a kill’s skin, usually starting at the soft underbelly.
Wedded to: When a hawk prefers one kind of quarry.
Preen: When a hawk straightens its feathers by oiling and dressing them.
Feak, to: When a hawk cleans her beak after feeding, wiping it briskly back and forth. A sign of great confidence if she will do this on your finger or glove.
For how the bird, my pleasure, my leisure, my captive,
unhitches for a brief interval from my grasping
to serve as that tenuous arch linking us to the inaccessible,
and then returns to my fist, for how their flat brains
stop our spinning projections into framed photographs,
eyes packed with receptor cells, two and half times
more accurate than ours, half of the peregrine’s brown-
black stare more than equal to my contemplation,
wild and reserved, remote even as she takes food from
my hand, the feet perfect for killing and carrying
the kill so we distinguish them by this excellence, and for
this strange accord reached with a thing of the air,
that they can leave when they choose, but choose to stay.
Raptor: A Brief Lexicon
Falconry The falconer’s primary aspiration should be to possess
hunting birds that he has trained through his own ingenuity to capture
the quarry he desires in the manner he prefers. The actual taking of
prey should be a secondary consideration.
The Art of Falconry
Gorge [(O)Fr. = throat f. Proto-Romance alt. of L gurges whirlpool.]
1 The external throat; the front of the neck. arch. LME.2 The internal
throat. Now only rhet. LME. 3 Orig. inFalconry, (the contents of)
the crop of a hawk. Now gen., the contents of the stomach (chiefly in
phrs. below). LME. s 4 A meal, esp. (in Falconry) for a hawk. Long rare.
My falcon now is sharp and passing empty,
And till she stoop she must not be full-gorg’d
The Taming of the Shrew (4.1. 177-178).
Haggard 1 Of a hawk: caught after having assumed its adult plumage;
wild, untamed. fig. a wild, intractable person. b of plumage: ragged. rare.
If I do prove her haggard,
Though that her jesses were my dear heartstrings,
I’d whistle her off and let her down the wind
To prey at fortune.
Jesses. n . Narrow straps of leather attached to a hawk’s legs, by which she
is held. When on the fist these leather straps are held between the fingers.
Mute Of a bird, esp. a hawk: discharge (faeces), the action of defecating
by a bird, esp. a hawk; sing & in pl. (a deposit of) faeces, droppings.
Peregrine Of the peregrine (implicitly female), Turbervile (1575) notes:
the seconde [after the falcon gentle in a list] is the Haggart
Falcon, whiche is otherwise tearmed the Peregrine Falcon.
“Peregrine” is strongly adjectival here, meaning in effect (according to
this writer) from unknown or distant parts, or wanderer, or (oddly)
suggestive of “beautie and excellencie.”
Raptor [L, f. as RAPT a.: see –OR] 1 Ornith. = bird of prey S.V. BIRD n.
LME. 2 A plunderer, a robber. LME-E18. See Rapt: Long poet. rare.
1 Carry away by force. L16 2 Transport in spirit; enrapture. Removed from
one place or situation to another. Now poet.
Seeling Come seeling night,
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day.
Tercel or GENTLE n. Also spelled tassel Shakes. The male of any variety
of hawk, as distinguished from the female, generally called falcon. The name
is probably derived from the belief that the former is one third smaller
than the latter.
Andrew Feld is assistant professor of English at the University of Washington and the author of Citizen (2003), winner of the National Poetry Series prize and the “Discovery”/The Nation award.