The Predatory Life

As I sit at my table watching
the feeders in my backyard,
I observe social tolerance in action,
with dozens of sparrows interspersed
with doves, blackbirds, cardinals,
a woodpecker, and a squirrel or two --
all calmly feasting.
A friendly gathering of prey.

Suddenly, simultaneously,
every bird disappears,
seeking cover, hidden deep
within the cedars and thorny bushes.
A shadow drifts across the yard,
signaling the arrival of a young hawk,
seeking his noontime meal.
This hunter swoops down,
landing upon the fence,
surveys the now deserted yard,
silently enduring the cacophony
of protesting calls emanating
from his hidden prey.

I am struck by the lonely life
lived by a predator,
be it a bird of prey as here,
or tiger, shark, snake, or grizzly bear.
Whether herds of zebra and gazelles
on the plains of Africa
upon sighting a pride of lions, or
flocks of birds in suburban Louisiana
spying a solitary hawk,
the presence of a predator
disrupts all harmony and goodwill.
All prey fear and ostracize him.

There is no flock, no school, no herd
that welcomes his presence.
He is Nature’s social misfit,
alone or tolerated only
by small packs of killer peers.
His is a harsh and brutal existence
based upon exploitation
of the weakness or gentleness of others.
None other desires the company of
those of a predacious nature --
a lesson best learned and remembered
by each and every Man!

Harry Edward Gilleland      1.30.02