All morning we hike the upland meadows,
through devil’s paintbrush, poison sumac,
and the heady smell of wild apples rotting
in the pale fall sun. Palm warblers twitch
their yellow rumps like strung out coke-heads,
and cedar waxwings sing drinking songs
as they eat fermented berries from the high
branches. Two yellow feathers and a skull
drop from the sky and fall on the brown
scar of trail, a sharp-shinned hawk on a dead
branch watching us walk, his brown speckled
belly and slate gray wings reflecting the sun.
He considers us, and without a flap
opens his wings to the wind and is gone.