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PEREGRINE FALCON, NEW YORK CITY
By Robert Cording

On the 65th floor where he wrote
Advertising copy, joking about
The erotic thrall of words that had
No purpose other than to make
Far too many buy far too much,
He stood one afternoon face to face
With a falcon that veered on the blade
Of its wings and plummeted, then
Swerved to a halt, wings hovering.
 
An office of computers clicked
Behind him.  Below, the silence
Of the miniature lunch time crowds
And toy-like taxis drifting without
Resolve to the will of others.
This bird’s been brought in, he thought,
To clean up the city’s dirty problems
Of too many pigeons.  It’s a hired beak.
 
Still he remained at the tinted glass
Windows, watching as the falcon
Gave with such purpose its self
To the air that carried it, its sheer falls
Breaking the mirrored self-reflections
Of glass office towers.  He chided
Himself: this is how the gods come
To deliver a message or a taunt,
And, for a moment, the falcon
Seemed to wait for his response,
The air articulate with a kind of
Wonder and terror.  Then it was gone.
 
He waited at the glass until he felt
The diminishment of whatever
Had unsettled him.  And though
The thin edge of the falcon’s wings
Had opened the slightest fissure in him
And he’d wandered far in thought,
He already felt himself turning back
To words for an ad, the falcon’s power
Surely a fit emblem for something.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Cording, born 1949 in Englewood, New Jersey, earned a BA at Montclair State University and a PhD at Boston College. Discussing his approach to writing in an interview for Holy Cross Magazine, Cording said, “It’s self-reflective about your relationship to mortality, to the world, to those fundamental questions: Who are we? Where are we going? Why are we here? That’s what started me writing—those kinds of questions.” Cording is the author of several collections of poetry, including Life-list (1987), Heavy Grace (1996), and Walking With Ruskin (2010). Cording has received numerous honors for his poetry, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. The Barrett Chair of Creative Writing at the College of the Holy Cross, Cording lives in Woodstock, Connecticut. (For more about Robert Cording, visit poetryfoundation.org.)

Photo: “Peregrine Falcon, Empire State Building” by Sam Rohnnylocations.com.