Brown hawk on focus photo

Hawk, a red hawk,
Maybe the hawk we saved last year.
Hawk, our hawk,
Once one has a face,
They all do.

I killed the cat by pulling away too soon.
The day after I turned the corner north.
Just past the stop sign,
A red hawk, our hawk,
Picked at an animal
In the road
I could not name.

The road,
Rock pressed in
One direction
But not,

If I,
I run
Over it.
The tires might make
The corpse go away
So that at least the unnamed known
Might be saved from itself,

Its hunger,
Its instinct
To stay
Where it is uninvited
If not by law,
By lack of.

In cool, late afternoon greys,
The corpse remains
Mangled tail and dark fur
Undusted by feathers.

“Where is your smallest shovel?” I ask my dad.
“You can’t stop on J. Take your life into your own hands.”
“No. I’ll have to walk.”
I don’t want advice.
I want a tool.
I walk.
The shovel taps.

“Do you need a ride?” says the car pulled over.
“Not going to bury something are you?”

I plunge through the moist furrows in the field.
I sweat.
I swing the shovel underneath the body.
I scrape blood over cracked black pavement.
If the hawk returns,
I don’t know it.
It may not be our hawk.
I may never have known it.
I’m sad I cannot save those
I want to
deserve it

Hawk, a red hawk,
Maybe the hawk we saved last year.
Hawk, our hawk,
Circles around
Hovers above
Once one has a face,
They all do.


Poem by Erin Conway

Erin Conway is an experienced classroom teacher, staff trainer and curriculum designer who has worked locally and abroad, specifically ten years in indigenous villages in Guatemala. She works in Community Youth Development as a UW-Madison, Division of Extension Educator. Erin manages a website/blog that can be found at