Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Vittles of Death

Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

The broad-winged hawk
raised from the rocky creek bed
with a time-limited garter snake
in her talons.

I knew the bird by the
horizontal white tail barring
and the rapid flap of wing
as she rose toward the emerging canopy veil.

I knew the snake by the
vertical yellow stripes
running the length of body to tail.

They gleamed in the sunlight
stored up by the poplar leaves
for cloudy days
such as this.

What of him was not twisted
and entwined in a mutual
death grip with scaly hawk feet
streamed downward –

though in mid air,
gravity still laying a claim

“You will return to me.”

Perhaps all of us knew gravity
wasn’t expecting to see that snake
again in the same configuration
of embodiment.

Most of us were okay with it,
under the circumstances.

So bird and snake got me thinking
about how we living beings
must feed our inner beloved
on the vittles of Death.

Love notes take many forms:

Here my Beloved are the cords of attachment
to beliefs proven too small and inflexible,
to things that constrict and clutter,
and to all those who can only embrace us
in pathologies of pain.

Here too I lay down all of the possessions
that ego has acquired through the depletion
of Self and Other.

There are many.

Let me nourish you my Dearest,
tending cellular breath and memory,
on the flesh of animal and plant.
Though I’d like to promise you that every
being came to our lips by choice,
I don’t know this to be true.

Our gratitude needs be far greater than
Grandmother’s mourning.

I kept walking,
knowing somewhere beyond my sight
the extended arm of a large tree on mountain slope
was hosting hawk and serpent
at the shared breakfast table of Gain and Loss.

But before this story was completely over,
I came upon another common garter snake -
this one warming belly in the middle of a winding gravel road.

His tongue flicked in and out,
tasting, sensing.

I said,

“Hello Love,”

and gently moved him out of harm’s way.

© 2011-2016/Jamie K. Reaser
From "Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life" 
and "Wild Life: New and Selected Poems"

Feel free to share