For this bit of nature poetry, I decided to show two very different drafts of essentially the same poem side by side (or one over the other, as it were). The first draft was written in 1999, the revision finished last month.
Food for thought: Is it ever too late to revise a poem? What is lost or gained in the process?
“Hawk-side” – November 1999:
Hawks high on fences. Hawks poised perching there. Hawks like stoic kitten princesses, huntresses on fences along a highway. Looking out for morsels of mice and sparrows. Too many fully empty deer there are--stuffed wholly empty. Lying stiff, the wholly empty deer await the hawks. Hungry hawks find food elsewhere. Full hawks, flecked with brown and white; russet-brown, russet-white at the meal. Flash of a truck, fleck of a bird, crowning a rotten wooden fence post, low on a highway hill. I pass another, passenger-side, hawk-side.
“Hawk Side” – June 2015:
Along the highway fence, a hawk posts tall, keen and poised, as stoic as a feral kitten princess, knowing more, careening inside for hot morsels of mice and sparrows. Too many deer fully empty, ahead. Stuffed with glass, colliding stiff, hollowed-out doe and buck parts await the crows, and the hawks. Ravenous hawks wrench food from life elsewhere. Full hawks fleck brown and white. Russet brown, white- stained-russet lines blur— feather edges, straw bones, red shoulders, tails, secret coverts, cheeks smeared, blood talons, beaks dripping. Blip of a truck, fleck of a bird, the huntress crowns the rot of wooden fence posts (leaving carcasses for cars and crows), low on a highway hill. Sharp- eyed, one passed on the right— passenger side, hawk side.
copyright C. L. Tangenberg