By Leslie Walker Trahan
From the kitchen window, I see the hawk. It’s perched in the wide oak tree in my backyard. I see you, too, in the lounge chair underneath the tree. Your arms and legs are bare, and in the afternoon sun, they look sculpted from butter. You’re drinking a cocktail and reading a thick magazine. Between sips, you stir your drink with your finger.
I’m watching the hawk and watching you, and that’s when I see the squirrel. The squirrel is sitting on the grass five feet away from you, turning a nut in its paws. I admire how calm the squirrel is sharing space with you, an unknown creature with an unknown heart. Your heart is hidden under layers of muscle and bone, and even those are a secret to a creature like the squirrel.
But the squirrel’s true foe is the hawk, and between the two of them, there are no secrets. Just the uncertainty of the angle. Just the question of timing. I imagine a hawk’s heart to be a wild and messy thing, but from the kitchen window, its motivations seem as fresh as the day itself and each moment as it comes to us.
I could, of course, open the door or knock on the window. I could warn the squirrel. I could scare away the hawk. But who am I to interfere with nature’s dark winds?
Instead I watch. I watch the hawk swoop down on its prey and soar over the neighbor’s yard. I watch the squirrel drop the nut somewhere in the wide expanse of sky above the lounge chair. I watch the nut land on the grass next to you.
You don’t look up. You run your hand over a page in your magazine and stir your drink with your finger. Your fingernail is painted red, and I can see the dark trail of it at the top of your glass.
Leslie Walker Trahan is a writer and editor from Austin, Texas. You can find her on Twitter @lesliewtrahan.