Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Chicken Hawk
A Word Picture

Sonny Vergara


It was a dark brown spot at the edge of the field that caught his eye as he made long soaring turns at two hundred feet in and out of the morning updrafts. The sun had been bright for some time now and he was hungry. Except for a few locusts, he had not eaten for several hours. Just about anything that might qualify as a meal was getting a second, closer look. Noting the small form below, he started a slow gliding turn, angling his fully extended wings almost imperceptibly as he slipped off the cusp of a warm rising current. He raised his head and slightly lowered his legs, increasing the angle of his body against the ambient wind. His heart rate quickened. As his forward speed slowed, the feathers atop his wings began to flip loosely in the stalling air. He came to a stationary hover, fluttering his wings rapidly in order to retarget his prey. The trajectory he would need to follow was instinctive, automatic, without error. Then, he rolled and dropped almost a hundred feet in a vertical swoop from a liquid clear sky toward the small lump nibbling in the tall grass, unaware. The attack, executed with instinctive precision, was silent, sudden, and violent. There was no time for an alarm or even a shriek as three talons, two from one side, one from the other, pierced the heart of the unsuspecting animal, ripping him, dead, in a stir of dust and sand from the earth where he had lived.

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Sonny Vergara is a native of Florida. His father was from Ecuador and his mother from Soperton, Georgia. He speaks the language of his mother--Southern. He is presently retired. Sonny and his wife grow muscadine grapes, make wine, and worry about relevancy in a changing world.

© Sonny Vergara

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012