The Beast!

Jonas Hallgrimsson

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Flying frozen valleys
far from haunts of men,
scuttling over scree-slopes,
scrawny Ptarmigan,
weather-beaten, weary,
white with tufted feet,
not a nook of shelter,
not a shred to eat.

Hawk is up there hunting,
hungry wolf of birds:
pumps his eager pinions,
preys on flocks and herds,
watches, black and baleful,
browsing Lamb below
scratching food with frozen
forefeet from the snow.

Ptarmigan comes trembling
to taste what Lamb has found,
scurries toward the scanty
scraped-up patch of ground,
perches pale and weary,
pecks up scraps of food,
crumbs that Lamb uncovered,
clucks with gratitude.

Hawk alert with hunger
hangs there in the sky,
loops in lethal circles
like a bottle fly.
Hungry bird is heedless.
Hawk has sighted prey.
Wan and weary snowfowl ---
will she get away?

Hawk intent on hunting
hurtles down the sky.
Ptarmigan in terror
tries at last to fly:
like a streak of lightning
leaves the heights of snow,
seeking sanctuary
somewhere down below.

God and gracious fortune
guide her as she flies
in an open window ---
otherwise she dies.
Hawk is screaming harshly.
Hound leaps up to snap.
Ptarmigan sinks trustful,
tired in Housewife's lap.

Good and gracious Lady
grabs the little bird,
nods, then wrings its naked
neck without a word,
promptly plucks and guts it,
pops it in a pot
eyes alight and eager ---
eats it on the spot.

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