Rob Sohmer

I was researching British census records at our dining table when my gaze inexplicably drifted out the window. Just then, landing on top of our neighbor's telephone pole, in the little alley behind our houses, was a bird. Shaped like a droplet of water flicked into the air, it was picking at something, stretching out every couple moments to look around. I watched it for a while, unsure. I had seen plenty of pigeons outside our window, and many robins, even a bright red cardinal and its olive mate. Sometimes gulls, pulled by unexpected eastern winds, drifted by, scanning for the water which was too far to see. But this bird had too small a head relative to its body, and horizontal banding on its chest and legs. I thought it could be a hawk. I grabbed my camera and my grandfather's 200mm prime lens, which I had only used before to spy on my human neighbors. I balanced the lens on a bag of coffee and tried to focus. It was definitely a hawk, it was a peregrine. Smaller than I remembered and eating something it had caught, there were streaks of red that connected its beak to the telephone pole. When it stopped eating and looked up and around it sometimes paused, as if frozen for a second. Did it see me, my open face reflecting the bird’s? I'm not sure, but it didn't seem scared, nothing would reach it atop the telephone. I watched the hawk for a while longer.

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Contact & Editor’s Note

Open Concept, 2020