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. 

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.