Aphelion Issue 252, Volume 24
July 2020
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Falcon Discovery

by David Baresch

And there I stood upon that roof, gazing at the vast below, and there sprang New Year’s bells a-ringing across that winter’s land.

And the streets did shine with merry light and winds did blow with drifting snow, and mists rose in clouds of white, here the crisp of a silent night.

And high above, a sea of stars, they called me up, they drew me high, my wings I spread, I took to flight, and there I climbed through winds and ice.

My staff a-set, yet I knew not to where, but the seasons turned in that cold lost air and I traversed afar over lands unknown and soon below a continent wide, it spread out the miles afore mine eyes.

And a voice whispered through that high freeze, “here Australia doth be, here doth Australia see.”

And there of arid, and there of bone, and there of sand, sand once gold, yet now it lay as black with ash, and now it streamed with veins of flame.

For here, once was, an oasis green, here, once was, a cluster of trees, yet now it lay a blanket of grey, as days of death in rot might lay.

And questions came, they forced me on, on to seek this maker of fire, I circled around, I looked for mild ground, yet there in the billowing I set me down.

And upon that ash I did walk, through spitting flames lashing forth, and as if encaged, I did step within that rage, that shifting maze.

And in that choke of plumes of smoke something cracked and something snapped, I turned, I looked, and there I saw a hunter stretching its pointed claws.

There a bird, it be a hawk, it rose, it soared from the melting ore, crashing through the dripping leaves, it spread its wings, it climbed with ease.

It raced away from this patch of hell, and in its beak it held a twig, and such twig as to behold, steaming white and smouldering gold.

And that hawk did fly, all a-glide, with wing-ed grace through thin blue skies, and there in question, I gave chase to learn of that creature’s aims and fate.

I followed on and asked why this hunter of the sharpest eye, this hunter who delved from heights on high to feed on rats, to feed on mice, why did it risk this tool of torch, a tool that it, itself, might scorch?

And there above that arid, and there above those sands, that falcon scoured the barren, that falcon scoured the land.

Yet far below was life bereft, and this, for a hawk, a sign of threat, and this for hunger, a time of dread, for here strove a bird now long unfed.

And in such sands such scarcity reigns and every day is a fight for life, and every day is a day is a wrestle, a spar, a spar with a foe who never let’s go, a foe who goes by the name of death.

Then soon nearby a copse we spied and the falcon circled around and wide, its eyes a-glint, it turned three times, then satisfied, that powerful bird made a mighty dive.

‘But where the prey?’ I did say. I looked, yet there, I saw nay.

Then that hawk screamed out, mad and wild, and that twig released from its sharpened beak, and there it fell, that smouldering stick, it dropped to the bush and into the thick, and flames took hold of that fresh undergrowth, and there it oranged, and there it glowed.

Then that falcon rose, it took to wing, and on thermals high it did glide, hovering, watching, its sight unblinking, its keenness stern, its stare unflinching.

While far below came the sound of cracks, sparks shot and sparks spat, flames grew and fumes rose and a fire anew grew to bold, this the arson of a hunting falcon.

And a mouse, terrified, dashed out to the sands, darting and fleeing that melting ceiling, that ceiling of green, that ceiling of leaves, that ceiling a shield from death by wings, but now a ceiling afire, steaming, dripping, teeming.

And that mouse, bewildered, the falcon spied, and from great heights that bird did dive, its claws drawn, intent on maim, its shadow darkened the homeless game.

Its talons stretched, its speed increased, and with gravity’s aid those talons hit, and with gravity’s force those talons bored, those talons twisted, those talons gored.

And the hawk gripped and its wings did lift, it carried up that squealing mouse, a mouse a-leak with streams of blood, and globules dripped, caught by the Earth, and there a beast in venom versed did slithered forth, it quenched its desert thirst.

And into the distance went the pair and a meal of two was ripped somewhere, a meal of two in a lofty lair.

And on the sands stampede arose of frightened mice and panicked voles, they scurried across that dusty road but their flight from fire was met with rain, a rain of hunger and screeches insane, a rain of falcons hunting game.

And claws, sharp, at rodents slashed, and fur tore and feathers rose, and there the squeals, and there the caws, the caws of want, the caws for food, and blood splashed mingled with drool.

And the hawks swirled as a storm of cloud and night they cast upon the ground and those sands below, now bereft of life, and the beasts of the sky went their ways and those shadows of death left a land razed.

The sky cleared, it burned blue, and a star beat down, rays shone through, and those beams of heat they kissed the land, a land a-smoulder, a land that writhed, a land, that by twig, lay blackened and fried.

And in such a hell and at such a time, a time of tinder, a time of dry, it left no place for the wild to hide, to hide from the hunger that came from the sky.

And a burning bush and a colony of voles together they withered and decomposed.

And with Vulcan’s gift, this gift alight, the hunters crowed, the hunters sang, for they had dined as according to plan.

And far from home, on the other side of the globe, I had seen how hawks had plotted with fire and learnt to smoke their hidden prey from out from their warrens, out from their safe, out from their keep deep underneath.

Had but Theseus thought of this then we would read another myth.

And my thoughts raced, again and again, what else might such a bird attain, and how else might such a bird be trained?

The stars called, my hour was through, I upped, I flew with thoughts of awe, awe for the hawk, thoughts grew and grew, its planning, its cunning, its mastery discovery, an act, that many, would have believed untrue.

It is knowledge new born, it is knowledge accrued, it is knowledge gained in a need for food.


2019 David Baresch

Bio: David Baresch - Author of ‘Tides of March’ (personal experience of an earthquake, a tsunami, and nuclear fallout) Book YouTube preview at… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ictxNmwwhUM ‘Every Picture Tells...’ (using visualization and storytelling to aid study) ‘Atomic Star’ (the story of ‘goddess bacteria’. Sci-fi incorporating science education) 'Hotel Robot' (A visit to a futuristic robot hotel in Nagasaki Japan.) 'Last Cape' (A fantasy tale of a mortally wounded samurai warrior.) News articles for, ‘The Weekly Telegraph’ ‘New Humanist’

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