Reports of a juvenile northern goshawk in Prospect Park earlier this week got me out of bed. This is an uncommon bird even in its boreal habitat, so I was hoping I’d get a look at it in the midst of sapiensful Brooklyn. I was on Lookout Hill (2nd or 3rd highest point in the borough) by 7, so I saw the sun slubber up over the Longe Eyelant. Beautifully calm and quiet on the way up. The butterfly meadow was overgrown and sere. An old Chinese couple was exercising at the very top, which reminded me of the parks in Beijing where the alte kockers do tai chi and exercise their pet birds. I saw a juvenile red-tailed hawk, than another (probably the same one) make a couple passes over a squirrel on a tree trunk. The hawk landed in a crotch above the squirrel, the squirrel boldly or insanely investigated. It was no more than a foot below the hawk, who was looking down at it. I think the logistics of taking a vertical squirrel there were very difficult; the bird didn’t even try. Lucky/screwy squirrel descended making ominous squeaks. Then another hawk further up the hill distracted me, but I believe it was yet another red-tail; broad wings and short tail as compared to the accipter’s narrower wings and longer tail. An adult red-tail was perched by the Terrace Bridge a little later. Three wasp nests revealed in the unshorn trees. I didn’t see the goshawk, but I thought of Matthiessen’s snow leopard and the way the trees began to glow from the top down.
Last night I went to the NYU-love fest for Philip Levine, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, at Cooper Union’s Great Hall. The usual suspects were: Doctorow, Hirsch, Kinnell, Komunyakaa, Olds, Stern, Valentine; some serious talent squandered in the spoils of academe. I’ve always enjoyed Levine’s work, and he’s always seemed a good egg. Sixteen-seventeen years ago he winked at me at the Information Desk of the University of Iowa Libraries.