Hierarchies, The Northern Harrier Hawk
by Kevin Irie
In the mutual exclusion of habitat to shelter,
the harrier gives evidence enough
to decide: your final arbiter is always
above you. Small creatures—mice, voles,
keep low in grasses. Their tracks
just stop like the end
of a sentence. And a claw-mark on dirt
like a signet on parchment proves
the weak do not live by their own assent.
When the hawk slowly
circles above us, it flies the way
we’d walk after dinner, taking
its time after taking a life. Held
by the appetite that holds it
aloft. Holding no part of responsibility
for whatever death
is not yet its own.
Kevin Irie has published poetry in Canada, The States, Australia, and England. His poems have been broadcast on CBC Radio and have been translated into Spanish, French, and Japanese. He has also been long-listed for the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize, nominated for the ReLit Award, and shortlisted for Arc‘s 2009 Poem of the Year contest. His book, Viewing Tom Tomson: A Minority Report (Frontenac House, 2012), was a finalist for the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award, as well as the Toronto Book Award. He lives in Toronto.