from years ago.
it always reminds me of a church.
wait is a cruel thing. yesterday i suddenly deep down understood the meaning of prey, from both sides of the word. a dying squirrel, the sun setting in a gray sky, empty tree limbs, the silhouettes of red tailed hawks. waiting.
yesterday they were back, the hawks who call this neighborhood home. they are a couple, and in truth it is wrong to say they were back - this is their territory, i just said they called it home; they no doubt have a nest nearby. it's closer to truth to say they paid us another visit. even closer to truth to say they were hungry and we have a yard full of fat squirrels.
yesterday's kill was not a clean one. the hawk slammed into katie's window, dropping the squirrel under her stairs, at the bottom of the cherry laurel tree, alive, but badly injured. had the squirrel been uninjured, just in shock, able to catch its breath and move on, it was a good place to be, impossible for a hawk to dive beneath. but. there is always a but.
the hawk moved from tree to tree, pear to oak to sweet gum, feathers alert and ruffled, and called her mate, who settled in the big oak in the side yard. they would wait. and when the time came, one or the other would sneak over, scoop up the squirrel and they would be gone. we could feel their awful patience in the air, and at our feet, the squirrel, dying. slowly. at our feet. between her door and mine. not something we could ignore, the way people ignore deaths and suffering on the television news. no other channel to switch to. had katie's husband been home he would have quickly shot the squirrel, we knew that, and we knew it would be right, but he was out of town.
when texted, he replied shoot it. air gun. and so katie did. it was not an easy thing, playing god.
we picked it up and offered it to the hawks. laid it in the wide open part of the side yard and waited. they acted like gods, and did so easily, awaiting our acknowledgment. a gift.
when i checked the definition of coexistence, i was surprised at the mention of the word peace. to exist together in peace, always listed second, after to exist together at the same time. looking further, i found merriam-webster's added words: to live in peace with each other especially as a matter of policy. ah. it does not come naturally. it requires an agreement. hence the not so peaceful nature of nature's coexistence.
my cat has destroyed the cover of my greeny-blue chair. at the time the destruction began, i still called her my mother's cat and we were figuring out our new life together, and screw it, it's just a chair, i thought. i tried to stop her, but i wasn't letting her go outside by herself, and cats gotta scratch, and chairs can be recovered, and in less time than i expected the chair was claw poked and torn. i tied an old baby blanket over the worst part and laughed it off and she and i continued building our relationship and figuring out the sharing of this space. eventually - now so long ago that i can't even remember her as only an inside cat - she was allowed outside all by herself, and she found her way to maggie's favorite old scratching spot at the bottom of a pear tree next to the creek. it must make the tree happy to have cats to scratch its itch.