It Was Happy Hour

in our Florida retirement village
we were on the patio
ice cubes clinking
in our gin and tonics
conversations rising
sinking
from a tree next door
a shriek and a flurry
and down
on the ground
a hawk with a dove
in its talons
red-shouldered hawk
we decided
the hawk stood still
the dove soft beneath him
wrestled and rested
wrestled and rested
but the hawk calmly waited

“ooh, poor dove”
someone said
“soon be dead”
someone else said
still the hawk sat
the dove weakly fluttered
“if it were a rat”
a woman said
“nature red”
her husband said
“in tooth and claw”
“they did not kill
before the fall”
a certain person said
another said
“they did”
no one could say for sure
but one or two
thought they knew

the hawk still

clutching his prey
lifted suddenly and flew away
then it was quiet on the patio
(except for the ice cubes clinking)
the sun was sinking

it was happy hour.


David Schelhaas taught high school and college English for 45 years and is now retired. He has published two books of poetry, The God of Material Things and Illuminated Manuscript, with Dordt Press.