After dinner we sometimes sit out on the deck.
We are used to watching crows
winging their way back to the roost
on the next ridge over.
In late spring we begin to see
bats heading off to feed at dusk,
leaving their brooding boxes that are mounted
under the eave of our garage.
One night, in the fading light,
I realized that the dark birds
high above the dense green valley
were not crows.
They were sleeker, the wings angular.
In flight they moved across the sky,
and suddenly dodged one way, then another,
catching their aerial dinner.
Retrieving binoculars from the house
I saw the distinctive white bars
under the wings of the six or so hunters.
Common Nighthawks, my Sibley guide confirmed.
I later thought of Edward Hopper’s nighthawks,
enclosed in the yellow light of a spare city diner,
waiting to be set free.