Road Warrior

By Kim Todd

May 4, 2015

Road Warrior

Someday, the newspaper photographer told me as we drove back from the fire, he was going to do a photo essay on all those raptors along the highway.

"All the what?" I asked. But just like that, they were everywhere.

The kestrel perched on a sign for “Downtown exits.” The peregrine falcon lurking on a street light, the metal curve aping the hunch of its shoulders. The bald eagle drifting over four empty lanes at dawn, before veering sharply over the airport runway.

Often, I'm headed elsewhere too fast for identification, so I just zoom by, ticking off, “bird of prey,” “bird of prey,” “bird of prey.” But, stuck in traffic, I wonder about that red-tailed hawk on the telephone post, feathers ragged in the cold wind. How does it map this tangle of entrance ramps and brake lights?

Every pebble on the breakdown lane must be in focus. And each yellowed grass blade where the moles live, on the slope between the asphalt edge and the noise-abating wall. A nictitating membrane slides across the eye to keep out the grit. Even so, the colors of the iPhone billboard, sheltering a flock of sparrows, remain sharp and clear.

Now the hawk leans forward; feathers flatten. Something has moved, and the bird's hunger electrifies the scene. From my viewpoint, down below, all the lines of roads, bridges, telephone wires, converge for an instant on its sleek shape, the still point of ferocity.


Photo "Speed Trap" provided by Taji Allen, via creative commons license.

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