Tate Gallery
Three poems from James Tate's latest collection, Memoir of the Hawk: Poems:

Memoir of the Hawk

I was sitting on a bench in the park when
I saw this large hawk circling overhead. I had
my eyes on it when it suddenly swooped down and
picked up this little baby right out of its
carriage and flew away with it. My heart almost
stopped beating. I ran over to the mother, who
was eyeing a dress in a window. "Ma'am," I
stuttered, "that bird just stole your baby...."
She looked into the carriage and then up at the
sky. "Oh, I know that bird. She's a good bird.
She just took my baby to play with her babies
for a while. She'll bring him back in a short
time. My baby loves her babies. But thanks for
telling me. By the way, what do you think of
this dress? Is it right for me?" I thought of
her baby sailing through the sky in the claws
of that bird. "Well," I said, "I think the
mignonette green captures the amplitude of your
inner aviary." "What are you, some kind of loose
nutcase? Get out of here before I call the
police," she said.


Endless Time

The donkey stood alone in the paddock
swishing its tale to rid itself of flies.
It was a hot day, but billowing white clouds
occasionally blocked out the sun's rays.
The donkey shook its head and wiggled its
ears, blinked its eyes and now and then
kicked its legs. At night, when no one is
around, it leaps over the barns and turns
somersaults in the air. It is a way of
relieving tension, the donkey's mother
explains to the farmer's wife.


Just to Feel Human

A single apple grew on our tree, which
was some kind of miracle because it was a
pear tree. We walked around it scratching
our heads. "You want to eat it?" I asked
my wife. "I'd die first," she replied. We
went back into the house. I stood by the
kitchen window and stared at it. I thought
of Adam and Eve, but I didn't believe in Adam
and Eve. My wife said, "If you don't stop
staring at that stupid apple I'm going to go
out there and eat it." "So go," I said, "but
take your clothes off first, go naked." She
looked at me as if I were insane, and then
she started to undress, and so did I.