Again this morning, a northern harrier
haunts our forty-acre field,
over the spent goldenrod & brome,
the white flag on her rump flashing
as she banks & hovers, her wings
in a fluttery V:
mixed signals for those who would see her
as nothing more than namesake
for a flying weapon.
into the grass
& reemerges with a squirming meal.
Old fields like ours
are rarer than they used to be, & perhaps
she would prefer marshland,
but most of the marshes were drained
a hundred years ago, & so
for four days we have watched her
appear & disappear like
a magician’s handkerchief
along the top edge of the field.
Left alone, the land
in ways that contradict all expectation.
The cool wet forest felled
for charcoal in 1813
would’ve held — in root-nets,
in yard-deep humus & baroque
superstructures of wood —
as much water as
a small lake.
But with the recent arrival
of the woolly adelgid, we know
the old-growth hemlock will never
come back. Best
to make our peace
with light & drought,
with curled flourishes of grass
& a migrating harrier fishing for voles
under the bluest skies.