Cooper’s Hawk in the Garden on Christmas Day

We watch him wait, patient, motionless, 

on a high branch, perched above garden plots  

stripped bare except for the rustle of mouse 

or vole, rabbit or shrew—wait for motion  

to show him his next meal. And if no quiver  

reveals it soon enough, he knows, beyond the oaks, 

there’s a bay where hundreds of coots gather  

out of the wind in the sheltered part of the lake. 

I think back to his piteous cries of spring—

calling for his parent to continue to feed him  

in his first fledged days. Now he waits, no windhover 

nor red-tailed hawk on the updraft—only his head tilts 

and turns, ignoring our winter hiking group below,  

our binoculars and lenses trained on his branch 

as he’s captured by the photographer in our crew

with the yellow eyes that mark him still juvenile,

if wiser now in the ways of prey.

Robin Chapman

Robin Chapman’s work has been awarded the Cider Press Book Editors’ Award, the Posner Poetry Award, the Wisconsin Library Association’s Outstanding Book of Poetry Award, and the Helen Howe Poetry Award from Appalachia. She lives in Madison, WI. Panic Season (Tebot Bach, 2022, available from is her newest book.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: