Hawk and Hen

I asked a question on twitter the other day

The answers were interesting (and thank you by the way if you commented on that thread), ranging from following your heart, to considering the ripples of its effect on other people to attempting to live with no regrets (in both a positive and a negative sense) and finally landing in a place where most could agree, that of listening to your gut and keying into your instinctive first decision.

All this makes perfect sense when read through: listen to yourself, consider pros and cons and effects on those you love and then check against the list of objectives and goals you have set for your own life and a decision pops out of it like the time to have a gin on one of those flow charts. And that is where it falls down for me.

Until just a few short years ago my yardsticks for a life well lived were so very different. Foreshortened by an upbringing that considered nothing more important than a job and partner for life and a pension to ease your later years. This, when anchored in pre and post war Britain made perfect sense to my parents. They considered that they did nothing wrong in clipping my wings, and urging me to seek security not risk, urging me to know where I would roost each night like a barn hen because who knew when the fox would come calling again?

Except I am not a hen. I never was. I am a hawk sitting uncomfortably amid the hens, conscious of their blood and pulsing life which is calling to me to take them by the throat and bite hard. Constantly longing for the treetops and the long view. Tired of the scratch and petty peck of the everyday grubbing in the ground.

The desire to fly was so strong in me it wound me tight as I paced the hallways and garden of my house, fettered by responsibility to those I had created, brought into the world and loved beyond words. But my hooked nose always gave me away, my broody hen disguise would occasionally slip causing those who saw to gasp and move away instinctively. My hawk, suppressed for so long, teased by the trees that surrounded her, and longing for the freedom to soar would break free and cause panic and alarm in the hen house. She could never get far though, fettered by wings that could not push down and hard enough to elevate much beyond the first low branches and there, watching the devastation and upset wrought by her sudden eruption she would return cowed, ashamed, beaten and blamed.

Eventually I learned to live as a hen for those I loved, but I so wanted them to love me for the hawk I was.

This hen/hawk split is a comical image I know but it engages with something important to me now. Namely with which part do I make the decisions that currently assail me in the early hours of the morning with their insistent requirement that I choose, decide, act and live with the consequences? I admire those that feel they can say, I have put others first all my life now is my time for myself, the clarity of that appeals to me but I cannot say I have devoted my life and therefore can choose to put myself first now. In some ways I feel I have slept through those years. No, not slept, but not quite been there, since such a vital part of me had to be hidden. This leaves me confused, my disguise became me, I became that hen who needed external safety to be safe. Who could not risk a trip to the fresh grass beyond the coop fence. Who did not ever lift my head to see the trees above that would offer the long view and in that respect I feel I have also shortchanged my children as I see hawks in at least two of them.

Things changed when someone came into my life who saw the hawk in me, called to her and helped me to grow her wings again. Who called me to sit on His arm, to return there to roost each evening and not to a hen coop, who invites me to fly, to explore, to sit on a tall branch and return to Him with tales of what I have seen.

Who assures me that my hen heart – because that is now part of me now too – is not the part to have in the driver’s seat of my life – for that job you need someone who can see many more options than a well-pecked yard.

You need a Hawk and that Hawk needs a perch to return to. An arm outstretched that welcomes the return of the bird with the killer instinct and the beak and claws that show her nature and loves her for it, not inspite of it.


  • cherrytartblog

    Oh my gods, so much this.
    I completely understand your difficulty, suppressing almost everything for those we love. It’s why I’ve have always told my children to find what they love and go with it.
    We do deserve our freedom, I, and I’m sure you too, have always done the best we could. Don’t let the times you made mistakes weigh you down, none of us are perfect and it bloody hurts when your kids find out you’re not a superhero.
    My advice? If they’re grown, you fly. I know I will when the time comes.
    Huge hugs to you.

    • eye

      Thank you for this x

      They are grown. I struggle with the fact that they seem not to see what I am for now because a hen’s life is easy to understand in your mother. A hawk is less easy.

      • cherrytartblog

        To be honest, I know they’re your kids and you love them but you’re no longer responsible for them. Time for you, if they care about you they should want you to be happy, even if they can’t understand.
        Loads of women change when their kids grow up, so many have had to give up what they wanted.
        Don’t be a hen 😀

  • Professor Taboo

    Things changed when someone came into my life who saw the hawk in me, called to her and helped me to grow her wings again. Who called me to sit on His arm, to return there to roost each evening and not to a hen coop, who invites me to fly, to explore, to sit on a tall branch and return to Him with tales of what I have seen.

    This Eye, is very very good news! I’d even add that there are many ornithologists(?) throughout life at many points in our lives that happily and wisely offer roosts and birdcages with no doors, no locks, for us to be exactly what we are and want to be. 🙂

    If I may Eye, my deep fondness for the symbolism of OPEN birdcages…


    …really not cages at all. <3

    • eye

      I love that Professor and I am learning. Many arms. Many branches along the way. One who I seek to return to with tales of what I have seen. My hen heart fears he will be jealous or upset at my journeys. My hawk knows he sends me off to fly with more love than I have ever known before.

      • Professor Taboo

        I really do understand that “hen-heart” Eye. I do. But always remember what the exhilaration was like when you finally rid yourself of the training wheels from your first bicycle! Suddenly, the world was not so small anymore. Senses you didn’t even know existed… BURST into euphoric cascades of more life, more marrow!

        The prude is in fact the libertine, without the courage to face their naked soul. —- A.S. Neill

        And this doesn’t have to be simply sexual either; it is for the whole human experience! Yes? 🙂

        Fly Eye, FLY! That is where the hawk’s purest beauty rests and inspires men like me and your gentleman, and others, to assist in whatever way possible… not with judgement, but with awe! <3

  • May

    Excellent Eye! From my musings you know I can relate to this so much. I thought I was getting it wrong – not being like the others. I tried so very hard but a time came when I got too big for the greenhouse people constructed around me and I crashed out through the glass. x

  • Posy Churchgate

    I am so glad to have been guided to this post by May – it’s really vivid and it helps me understand your dynamic better – you’re a fascinating, vibrant woman who seems very generous with your time. Fly high – your soul needs it.

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