Disney by Daniel Adler

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The red-tailed hawk fell with its quarry from the branches to the sidewalk, orange-breasted robins bouncing around the hawk like wasps. The robins’ nest fell. The hawk made a quick tearing motion at what it held in its talons. The frenzied robins hovered and pecked at the hawk in turns. The predator bounced to the yellow lines in the middle of the road, robins in pursuit, and securing its prey, the hawk spread and pumped its long wings, flying up the street like a thief, vermilion tail down-angled, gaining altitude over the edifice opposite, into its courtyard and out of sight, the six robins in pursuit.

The zoologist stood appreciating the raw life moment he’d just witnessed, the robins’ screams still faintly audible. He looked up to the robin’s egg blue of the Carolina sky, sighed and walked to the fallen nest.

A downy gray feather was entwined in its earth-packed base, the nest a perfect circle the way only nature can produce, twigs woven and packed with loam by master weavers. He picked it up, turned it over and, marveling at its workmanship, brought it to the base of the apple tree in whose branches it had rested moments before.

He had never seen such unusual behavior from Buteo jamaicensis. He considered how such a scene would have been interpreted in ancient times: by prophets, augurs, ornithomants. He worked to remain neutral, to not ascribe meaning.

But when he arrived home, while walking up the brick steps to his colonial, a succession of images and words filled his brain as he recapped the incident: the robins hovering and squawking, taking turns to peck at the hawk; the phrases tiny souls and grieve for their dead.

That downy gray feather ensnared in the nest: broken home.

The hawk’s down-angled vermilion tail: like a thief.

A lion’s silhouette against red sky: circle of life.


Daniel Adler

Daniel Adler was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Portland. He has an MFA from University of South Carolina. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming from J Journal, The Broadkill Review, Entropy, The Cardiff Review and elsewhere.

Recent publications:

Camping With Aunt Fi” in The Broadkill Review (Spring 2021)

The Dogmaster” in Calliope (Winter 2021)

Pelicans” in Daily Drunk Mag (December 2020)

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anieldadler


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