David J. Bauman: “Field Notes with Hawk and Toad”



In memory of Marge Merrill


It’s January. Our Christmas tree is on the curb,
and I tell myself that I am lucky to be here,
but already I’m planning the spring garden.

It’s too cold to be on my knees outside.
The first heavy snow melted in a teaser thaw
and tempted the river to leave its banks.

It declined, much the way we turned down
invitations and sent out none ourselves
this year. The yard is speckled brown

with frozen green that sprang too soon.
The shoveled walk is framed in dirty white.
I want to be pulling weeds, touching rocks,

inviting toads to my backyard to do whatever
it is that toads may do. But I don’t own this place;
digging a pond is not an option. With so few

trees in the neighborhood, no birds have found
my feeders. So, I have driven today to the edge
of the mud flats to look for the hawk that was

reported, rare and only seen here in winter.
Far off by the frozen water, teetering on the thin,
top branches of a young pin oak, something flutters.

At this distance, I can’t be certain. Could
one clump of dead leaves cling so long after
the rest have fallen? I scan the field

and island. When I focus on the tree again,
the hawk shape is gone. I mark it down, as
sure as I can be that what I sought was there.



David J. Bauman has written three poetry chapbooks, including Angels & Adultery (2018) and a collaboration with his son Micah called Mapping the Valley: Hospital Poems (2021), both from Seven Kitchens Press. Bauman has poems and poetry reviews included or forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Whale Road Review, Watershed Review, Third Wednesday, and The Windhover.

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