The god of the back must be a lonely god, god in the shape of man-headed hawk. Long ago a man had been sailing the river and the hawk had been flying beside him for days. Mornings, the man would wake and look, yes, there it was, dark tip-to-tip, the hawk. His hawk, he began to think of it. And after a time he forgot the point of the journey, he only woke each morning to see if the hawk was there, to move if the hawk moved with him, to not rest if the hawk did not rest. And all of this love was done in silence, between animal and animal. There beside him in the air and there beside him in the water, the yoke of the hawk. Once he had a family. Once he had a city to go to and something to bring back. More and more he began to see his life as a story the hawk was telling holding the rat of the field in its claw, meaning There is another world and I will take you in it. This is when he became the god, god of the back, the beautiful brow of leaving.
"Back" by Beckian Fritz Goldberg from Lie Awake Lake, Oberlin College Press, © 2005. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.