You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul
You’ll be my breath should I grow old
You are my lover, you’re my best friend
You’re in my soul
This is an old song and perhaps not as well known as the others I have used to introduce this series of essays. Further more, I couldn’t find a video that would transfer here to this site easily. Although I am not a particular fan of Rod Stewart, the performer of the song that hit the number one spot for a brief moment, I would be remiss not to include it amidst all these words and music about rebirth. Rebirth comes in all kinds of disguises, shapes, and on many different levels. This one, for me, was one of the most important ones I have experienced because it altered my sense of everything around me and that of my own person.
While I was still in college, I met and made friends with a much younger student. That particular story is far too long to go into here, so I’ll just say that she was an abuse victim, and I became her protector. By that time, I was well established on campus and was a volunteer advocate at the newly established Women’s Center there. She was almost half my age, but taught me so much about genuine love and healing.
We both enjoyed taking long lazy drives through the country side, and at some point, she introduced me to the hawks that populate this region. I was immediately enamored and started reading up about them. I was astounded that I had missed this year round resident and simply knew nothing about them. Our drives after that were always in search of the hawks and other wild life.
It was almost an entire year later, and I was alone that day. Had driven out in the countryside, just to find some down time. I parked the car in a turn about off the road and was just sitting there listening to music playing softly on the radio. By then, my new friend had bought me a pair of binoculars and I reached out and picked them up, just to see what I could see. As I slowly scanned the further region around me, I spotted a lone hawk perched on the higher tiers of a utility tower. I zoomed in on her and was shocked to see that she was staring straight back at me. That was impossible. She had to be almost a quarter of a mile from where I was sitting in my car. And yet, she seemed completely aware of me, almost leaning toward me from where she was perched.
That’s when I became aware of the music, softly playing from the radio. As the chorus of the song came on, I swear she began to bob to the sound of the song, never taking her eyes off of me, the entire time. I knew the song and started singing the words: “You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul. You’ll be my breath should I grow old. You are my lover, you’re my best friend. You’re in my soul.”
I had been doing some research on Native American culture for a paper I had to write for a History class. Somewhere, in all of that reading, I had come across the concept of a spirit animal, that might attach itself to a particular individual to be a guide and teacher. It was always the animal who did the choosing. And although that thought crossed my mind, I immediately dismissed it, only thinking that was far too preposterous and presumptive to be true, after all, who the hell was I to even think of such a reality?
I drove home slowly, and never mentioned the episode to anyone. Yet, it seemed that wherever I went, the hawks would appear, in the air, sitting in tree branches, or utility poles alongside the highway. Sometime later, a good friend gave me a set of cards, created by Jamie Sams, and entitled “The Medicine Cards.” There was a group of people gathered around, perhaps for my birthday. I opened the deck and shuffled them thoroughly, finally picking one single card. I flipped the card over and it was The Hawk. Everyone started laughing because they were familiar with my affinity for that bird. It was the deck that helped me understand because the message of the hawk is to “Always remember who you truly are.”
My young friend eventually left my home and created her own life. We remain in contact on Messenger. At one point, she sent me this photo that she took in her backyard. It very much mirrors the image I saw through my binoculars all those years ago.
I have written about the hawks many times. This is one of the first of those poems:
In The Way of The Hawk
Remember the first time
I realized I might never again
feel the weight of a man
resting against me. Loss,
sharp and heavy rising
from belly to chest, expanding
until ribs might crack.
On occasion, that thought
still surfaces, swims to shore
leaving light footprints
on sandy beach as they move
a hawk drops from her perch
and earth reaches to swallow.
She unfolds her wings,
unwinds the wind, becomes one
with air that surrounds her.
Slow rhythmic circles of lazy
pleasure celebrate fact
that she can:
Hawk would laugh at absurdity
of words I used to fear,
until she appeared to imprint
her pattern across my years.
“This,” she would tell me,
“is all that matters.”
And this one which was written years later to a prompt that asked us to take full sentences of prose and turn them into a poem:
And last, but not least, is this piece of mythopoesis:
As I said at the beginning of this essay, rebirth comes in all kinds of ways, and with different meanings. But it always begins with sitting down alone and getting to know the one individual we really need to know. My message is the same as that of the hawk: “Always remember who you truly are.”
Elizabeth Crawford 8/25/2020