Like the falconer, you prize her aphrodisiacs.
Shy, endangered bird, migrating from the steppes
to breed in the warm air of this Empty Quarter.
You imagine she fears a fleet of four-wheel-drives,
campsites, the majlis, where a hooded falcon dreams.
How she dreads the tea boys’ songs, a generator
droning all night long in the desert. By daybreak
the hunt begins. You search for evidence, while
a convoy chases her tracks, car phones screaming
over dry, rutted riverbeds sprayed with Artemisia.
Like the falconer you’ve learned how to creep from
impotence to ambush, how the ground will surely
betray her, how a gyr untethered, his sight restored,
quickly gains height over her slow, deliberate
wingbeats. You watch him swoop to Earth’s face.
He points from the dunes, he circles her, melding
in a riot of awkward feathers. She cannot be twisted
back, her neck a broken string he jabs in agony.
Dawn cauterises the sky. The falconer retrieves
her damaged carcass with a piece of chicken meat
to treat the hunter. You know his aftertaste of want.