When I was a reporter, I was on task every minute of every day, and my byline appeared in print several times a week. But researching and writing a nonfiction book, my current focus, is an onerous, lonely, long-term task. So sometimes I like to exercise my writing muscles in a different way, to try and write something quick and winsome, even if only for the eyes of my friends or neighbors. And often the inspiration for these little prose poems is in the woods right outside my writing window.
Listening for the writing prompt outside my window
My friend, red-shouldered hawk, has been coming around regularly most mornings, perched high in the bare ghost-like oak branches above Klingle, loudly, pugnaciously staking his claim with a sharp “Keeyur, Keeyur.” This is his territory, and it could be so for a quarter century.
He’s handsome more than pretty, or maybe just well-dressed, with orange-brown underneath and dark brown on his back and shoulders (despite the name). But he’s a bit of a thug. Thick, stocky even, he’s a no-neck wrestler you wouldn’t want to argue with in a bar. At 17 inches he’s almost king of the roost, at least in the daytime. At night he must keep a wary ear out for Great-Horned Owl, in particular, or maybe slightly smaller Barred Owl.
But that seems not much of a threat since installation of the bike trail and its hateful urban street lamps. Barred owl, with her cute round face, a dashing brown and gray scarf thrown around her neck over a matching suit, used to come near my window almost every night and call to me “Who Cooks For You, Who Cooks For You?” Not once since the construction have I heard her alluring voice.
Nor have I heard the frightful, dire scream of red fox, who used to come so often, or the rare coyote yip and howl.
I keep my window open anyway, winter and summer, hoping.