Susan Cohen

Just When

After I choose a rock mid-way down the slope 
and sit to watch the ocean, a red-tailed hawk 
claims the rock below, observes the way 
I eat my apple, scans the cliff-side vetch 
and wort, launches, pounces on an insect, 
then retakes its boulder. I’m used to being 
the only hungry predator here, but the hawk 
does not seem bothered. It lets me admire 
its hook of beak, the holstered power
in its folded wings, its outsized claws 
resting on the lichen like scythes.
Two ravens make a showy landing 
on the rock behind me. Thick-billed.
Close. Each squawk, a detonation. 
I get a little bothered, sandwiched 
between the red-tail and the ravens, heads 
like war hammers. Still, this privilege
of sudden beauty—and just when 
I’d given up on mercy in the world.