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Red-Tailed Hawk

As we ascend the gravel path scrolled

on the south side of McIntyre Hill

this autumn morning, we witness a terrain

washed by a crisp tangerine sunrise,

shadowed by burgundy maples, lemon

beech, and the russet pear of sassafras.

In just a week, the crayola foliage

will descend earthbound into piles.

Almost four decades ago, I remember

the platoon march through thicket

to capture a hill, the cautionary inspection

of the jungle floor for booby traps,

the aerial surveillance for snipers

perched in the cypress forest

like poised vultures hungry for flesh

decaying in this humid climate.

In the New Hampshire foothills

we carry a stained wicker basket---

inside wine glasses and a picnic:

Monterey Jack and Beringer Chardonnay,

turkey sandwiches on cracked wheat,

and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

A lone daisy sways in a breeze

fanned by an ominous black cloud formation.

I wince at the rumble of approaching thunder,

taste the best of the C-rations---fruit cocktail.

The rumble returns me to recollections

of walking "point", the increasing decibels

of rocket and mortar attacks, Charlie's clatter

of AK47's, flashbacks of M16's pumping sixty

rounds per minute, the drone of Hueys hovering

like a swarm of dragonflies over Prospect Pond.

We hurriedly fold the blanket, recork the bottle.

I scan the treetops for the red-tailed hawk.


Naugatuck River Review-Summer 2013


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