Raptor Ready

Raptor Ready

By Joanna Brichetto

At the red-light halfway to Hebrew School,
I usually check my phone
or glance at my kid in his booster
or just blink at the soccer field,
but the day is February warm and the open window pulls my eye to the Methodist church: mid-century concrete block straight up,
up to a cross like a giant rust lollipop with arms.

Red-tailed hawk on the steeple,” I yell. “See it?”

I see it so fast it feels beshert, meant-to-be: Buteo jamaicensis, huge, on the lollipop’s right hand. Blurred brown, white on the belly, mantle feathers askew.

Red-tails are not rare—they nest in the trash trees on the limestone cliffs of Interstate 440. But wherever or whenever I see one,
normal life

I may as well be a character in a fairy story. I may as well be in a wonder tale. I may as well fly out of my Toyota mini-wagon right now to join her, and I may as well bring my boy, too. We slide through our windows and rise. We catch a thermal and float. We toss our glasses because we are hawk-eyed. We thirst for dove and squirrel. Our tennis shoes, like her talons, grip through the chicken wire on the lollipop’s transverse beam: wire put there by church committee to repel birds.
She is not a bird. She is a god.

I hope the red light lasts an eternity.

She scours the empty air over the soccer kids,
over us,
over rich-people houses beyond,
over the slow road we wait to join.

“That’s funny: a hawk on a cross. Like Jesus, right?” asks my small Jewish child, who does not know better.


Image Credit: Jackson Pearson

About the author

Joanna Brichetto

Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist in Nashville, where she writes the urban nature blog Look Around: Nearby Nature. Her essays have appeared in Hippocampus, storySouth, The Ilanot Review, November Bees, Vine Leaves Literary Journal and The Fourth River.