Owning a Hawk Feather is Illegal

Crows raise a ruckus on the mountain this morning,
their cacophony roused by a red-tailed hawk circling
too close to their nests. The crows mob and dive-bomb
the raptor until it flees and the racket stops.

Later, as I walk down the hill to the mailbox, I ponder
the meaning of those warnings, of black wings beating
against a common threat and wonder if we’ll ever learn
to work together to save our planet from destruction.

A feather falls on the path, white with brown stripes.
Is it a message from the universe? Who is watching?
From above, we’re as small as the trembling vole
reflected in the retina of the hawk’s golden eye.


Lady Bug, Lady Bug, Fly Away Home

He arrives in October at the peak of the plague.
Clinging to windows and walls, lady bugs fall
onto the floor, desk, and bed, scarlet carapaces
like Egyptian scarabs or scabs. Sweeping them
onto a piece of paper, he discards them at the base
of a burning sumac, but they return in droves,
orbiting his head as he writes in the night.

After he leaves, I dust, sweep, mop, burn
incense and sage, but insects don’t respect
the boundaries of water and smoke. Wintering
in the cabin, they bleed yellow when I budge them
with a broom to check if they’re sleeping or dead.
Seven spots for Our Lady’s seven joys and sorrows,
for the seven nights he spent in my bed.

A lady bug hitched a ride home with me, he writes
from Ohio. Girl cooties, I reply. I like your cooties,
he says, but he’s never coming back. Maybe that hitch
hiker laid eggs in his house. Maybe when leaves turn
to fire in the fall, hundreds of blood-colored bugs
will hatch on his walls. Maybe he’ll gently nudge
one onto a page of his poetry and think of me.


Beth Copeland is the author of three full-length poetry books: Blue Honey, recipient of the 2017 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize; Transcendental Telemarketer; and Traveling through Glass, recipient of the 1999 Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Award. Her poems have been published in literary magazines and anthologies and have been featured on international poetry websites. She has been profiled as poet of the week on the PBS NewsHour website. Beth lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains where she owns and runs Tiny Cabin, Big Ideas™, a retreat for poets, writers, and artists.

Photo by Mousum De on Unsplash

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