a brief history of birds of prey she said by Mara Adamitz Scrupe

a brief history of birds of prey she said
by Mara Adamitz Scrupe

were I eagle 		red tail hawk 		or any kind 
of raptor/ from the Latin rapio 
	–  you guessed it – to seize or take
	by force	as though

	* threatening 		loving 	 	chiding *

she said it & meant it: a birdlike dinosaur survivor 
	from the theropod period meaning a meat-eating T. rex 
or feathered Archaeopteryx of the Late Jurassic era
	one-hundred-fifty-million years 	–

	 from this perch/ from my stick-built arboreal 
nest		my talons outstretched to keen 
	I’d tear any vertebrate 
	figurine down to dusk	

	* swift 	dash 		cull *  	

inescapable victim/ or were I instead she said 
a stone slab 
	an articulated tile or some kind of 
tectonic shift/ my earthly plates uplifting 
	a billion years back

	* as alp or butte	ridge or range * 

– more than plain/ she’d said/ the cumbrance 
	of embrace – were I 
Vesuvial/ a coital eruption/ the gray or purple 

of molten phyllite & slate interlaced 
with banded quartz – from the Chilhowee
 Group of Catoctin Formation/ columnar up 
	the sides of these oldest 
	of mountains – in my fissibility my beading easily shivered
with the proper tools: 

	* break iron 		punch 	   	 & scriber * 
	I’d make a roofing slate perfectly in severed 
strata as such of my silken cleavage
	 – were I dominated planarly 
were I fragile as rat gnawed concrete		were I the storyteller

in some precise art with twenty names
	each for rain & snow & wind 	
	in explicit parlance in my oratorial 
patois –	I’d tell a score each of anger/ sadness 


the piercing of a human heart 
from my solace in the intrinsic 
	patience of this land I’d draw the gathered multitude 
a rendering that simple English could not 
	possibly challenge 

	* in hell of hot/ quinta of noiseless voices * 

were I 		 the I 		in the power	

	* threatening 		loving 	 	chiding *

	she said – I never fought
I let him take me/ fuck me 
in a starless suburban motel – relishing my right 
	to it – to my first 
	person to my own positionality to my own living 

	life/ this/ this is my story/ she said 
	surviving 	surpassing as an elephant of leviathan 
memory 		or even bigger/ better 
	Jefferson’s incognitum en famille/ protected 

or grieving not eating other animals nor caging 
	nor isolating nor torturing

were I she said a very young calf withstanding 
	slaughter or the bones
	& teeth of that massive unnamed animal found 
at Big Bone Lick or as well another 
	in South Carolina – enslaved Africans
	pointed out the resemblance – 	were I

decoder or philosopher or explicator 
of affinity
	or only myself in specious self-defense 
	after all placidly bobbing my recollective 

	waves: just a one-time physical thing
between strangers		 no victim no violator 	
just a Lake Travis trailer park because I could quickie
	coup de grace drop-off 	
	busted screen door 		slap

Hear Mara Adamitz Scrupe recite the poem on the Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast:

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Mara Adamitz Scrupe is a writer, visual artist, and documentary filmmaker. She has authored six prizewinning poetry collections and received numerous creative grants and fellowships. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, her poems have been published in national and international literary magazines and have won or been shortlisted/ nominated for Bridport Prize (UK), Canterbury International Arts Festival Poet of the Year (UK), Forward Prize for Poetry (UK), Rubery Book Award (UK), Brighthorse Poetry Book Prize (USA), Fish Prize (Ireland), Aesthetica Award (UK), erbacce-press Poetry Book Prize (UK), Plough Prize (UK), Periplum Book Award (UK), Cornwall Festival Competition (UK), Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Award, (Australia), and National Poetry Competition (UK), among others. Her poetry and essays have been published worldwide in literary journals and arts periodicals and her environmental installations, sculptures and artist books are held in the collections of international museums and sculpture parks. Mara co-directs Low Rent Pictures, an independent film company producing documentaries about rural America. She serves concurrently as Lance Williams Resident Artist in the Arts & Sciences, University of Kansas/ Lawrence, and Dean and Professor Emerita, University of the Arts/ Philadelphia. Mara lives with her husband on their farm bordering the James River in the Blue Ridge Mountains countryside of Virginia. https://www.facebook.com/mara.scrupe https://www.instagram.com/marascrupe/

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