* * *
Under my curved wings, the dusk.
You flinch from these shadows
Below me, scurries, the bright eyes of prey.
Then my fine talons
strum the leafy floor—capture.
How glorious to fly
like death springing from a bare limb.
You, human, seem to agree.
Heavy and blinkered in the dark, you squint
at the show, my bloody catch invisible,
while my mate waits hungry
like a statue in our hollow.
Our low laughter disturbs the forest.
We remember what you did:
finding our dropped egg and taking it,
tucking it up with your bright treasures—
That night, we skirted your glowing den
while you turned the egg in your blunt
fingers, set it on a shelf. We too
have our rituals:
now, this new nest rests upon the old.
In the depths of our woods
a matte white shell cracks—the future
shivers under silver-black leaves.
* * *
A Blue Jay Mimics a Hawk
His blue is like the shock of ocean
off a cliff in Cornwall, where some of us swam
out to Merlin’s cave (I will lie
and say I was one of the brave ones
who did so and stood shivering,
bone-drenched the rest of the day).
The rocky black beach
was like a bird’s beak, sharp,
and the tide his feathers
churning behind. The cave opened and shut
as the waves blinked over it.
Sliding into the ice surf, my skin
made a sound like a hawk’s cry,
Today, in my back yard,
I try to imitate my blue jay,
or retell him, as he retells the hawk.
I’d like to catch his vividness,
the way he pricked me out of this day
and into another
with just one mechanical tilt of a wing.
* * *
Aza Pace’s poems appear or are forthcoming in The Southern Review, Copper Nickel, Mudlark, New Ohio Review, and elsewhere. She is the winner of a university Academy of American Poets Prize and an Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Poetry. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Houston and is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of North Texas.