The Circling Hawk
(For Michael Mann)
by Al Billings
Well, Bub, that circling hawk finally landed. From two thousand two thousand miles away, I could feel it descend, wings flapping, and I heard its talons ring against the dull steel bar behind your head. The motionless wheelchair bears witness to the mute sky above you.
You’ve been expecting him, but who knows how it all came to this? They didn’t make it easy for you, duck-walking you around the dusty perimeter until they felt like flipping the switch. They crumpled your sturdy handshake and left dust devils floating inside your splintered Martin guitar.
You and me, and our fractured families, twisting below the desiccated Joshua tree, Scots-Irish nobodies craving moisture amidst the jagged desert horizon. The big boys promised us the universe, but after we’d guzzled just a few quarts of cheap beer, the bastards shut the operation down for the night.
Well, Bub, the read-headed angel vanished. The uncles took a boozy dive and elected to float along the bottom. All that’s left is the memory of a faded Pendleton shirt and a pair of shoes that pinched your hillbilly toes. You and me, Bub, and the narrowing gap between us.