16 March 2009

Diane Wakoski

[from Diane Wakowski's Coins and Coffins, Hawk's Well, 1962]

Dark Windows

The windows of my house are dark,
for a hawk has spread his wings over them.
I am frightened of the dark
and step out the door.
On to my gloved arm, I lift the hawk,
gently folding his outspread wings,
touching his feathers, soft as wind.
His body, feather-packed and tense with hooded fright,
makes only minute connection with my own --
his talons as separate metal hooks touching
what they must to hold, but yielding nothing
of the rust-feathered body,
I unveil the bird,
though the windows of my house are still dark.
He sits in tense immobility
and then
as sudden as a gust of wind,
he pecks out my eyes like two cherries.
I am blind,
the windows of my house forever dark. My arm
does not flinch from the rigid bird
gripping its leather branch
and again,
he furiously darts at me, taking pieces of flesh,
stinging chunks in his scissored beak
from my face,
my neck,
my uncovered white arm. Then, his fury spent,
and the smell of warm blood soothing his microscopic strained nerves,
I feel the weight of soft feathers released against
my covered arm
and nestle against my bleeding face.
Quiet is the wind.
The windows of my house
may be always dark,
but inside there is light enough for any man
to meet his own

Cock Fight under the Magnolias

Fighting cocks,
in the dark, grasp each other by the comb
and tug, energy ruffling the feathers of
old blood and new life.
One cock is struck; his eye dangles out of the socket
on a long red string.

Silent men,
in the night, stare at the spectacle, pausing
to light a cigarette, breathing tightly,
in accord with the lightning movement
of claw and beak,

Inhaling the tension of touch,
wishing the battle of the red bullets was their own
release. In despair,
we reach out, if only for the touch.
Steady hands manipulate their glowing cigarettes.

Coins & Coffins

1 comment:

  1. Natalie Welsh22:52

    Once again, great selection of Wakoski's work. When I first started reading this particular poem, I was reminded slightly of Walt Whitman, one of Diane's several influences, with the description of the mighty bird and the feeling of being out in the woods alone in a cabin. However, as the hawk mutilates the woman, the poem takes a sharp turn towards Wakoski's unique use of metaphors to get her point across. The hawk devouring the woman is Wakoski's way of saying that woman are damaged and even destroyed by the role they are forced to play in society, and then fooled by fake comfort ( the hawk nuzzling its victim). Meanwhile, men take advantage of the woman's weak and vulnerable state and help themselves to whatever they have left.