At first when I found the flag flying south,
southeast, flexing and snapping, I knew that
the hawk would be like sharp spikes on strained silk.
Now I am drifting back to North Dakota,
drifting back to horizons full of white,
back to cornfields boarded up by blizzards.
Trees and power lines pulled to earth by ice,
narrow roads with zones of snow antenna
high. I have come to walk in those uncommon
days; I have come to feel the farmhouse souls
assuage me in a parka lined with fur.
The hawk would pound and pound upon the door
for hours at a time; we could not help
but hear. I placed my hand against the door,
recoiled from the cold. He pounded still.
I waded through the thaw of warmer days
and watched the river rising to the levee;
heard the hawk's faint whisper turning into stone.
Now I can hear the flag flexing and snapping,
though today, still, I feel my fingers burn.