I want to know the world
by feeling how it moves, as it’s too late
for crawling or learning new lines
or reaching for sex. For many years
I had dreams in which wings grew
into my shoulders, but when I grabbed
for food I starved, and when I tried
to rape or make nest, a mountain
blunted my claws. Yet it was not
a dream when, driving down the 101,
feeling the engine and the willed shapes
of the hills, I saw a hawk lifting
a snake from the grass and thought,
That’s me, I’m both of them,
a winged point and a black whip
flaying air. For some, falling is felt
motion, for others it’s time crawling
with a belly the color of the ground,
schist and blistered rock, where hunger
is a horizon and the sun changes
only for the sake of chaos: sequins
lining my back, or the hood under
which a beak makes noise, but not music.
The four meticulous eyes, always clear.
What can I say other than this was
when I moved from the straight way
and learned that instead of whipping
myself, or molting some earlier form,
I could drop to the rocks below
and feast on my coiled unmaking,
all my visions of belief picked clean,
blood turned to muscle, tendon into dirt.
“Omen” first appeared in New England Review, Volume 32, Issue 1.