The sun gone down, the trees a tracery of black set against the blue light — the three of us walked, quiet as spies, our silhouettes masked against the brush line.
Silence catches things.
Our predators’ avidity for motion snapped to a flowing along the land — a Cooper riding the undulations of the field.
Never more than three feet above the bleached grass, he hunted, tilting, cresting and dipping, silent, an edged thing only looking, unmindful of us.
Back and forth, turning at sharp angles, he quartered the ground. Then, urged out of flight, its drop so quick I counted 1001, 1002, and at 3 it rose, purposeful, lower, beating wings now, headed east, a bundle low along its belly, taloned meat.
It passed before us and beyond the trees. We found a curve of feathers where it had killed another bird and clutched beak-fulls of down away from the body. There was no blood.
Where the ground dropped to a hollow we crouched, waiting for deer. The dogs did not move but for their intense eyes, their deep wolf gene roused, their instinct clean as the cut of the cold air. I felt it, that ardor, like one splinter of fire inside a tight space, and my eyes too grew accustomed to the darkness.
painting by Claudio D’Angelo