The black hawk perched on the buzzing power line over the old road cracked with yellow grass. There were no trees for as far as the eye could see and the hawk could see very far. For all the flat, the earth curved. For all that his left eye was blind. It was a new moon.
Thursday's angel alighted on the power line next to the hawk. Although, that is perhaps the wrong word. It cannot be said that he had any weight. Nor did the line dip as he crouched. But still, there he was. Alighted an angel. Perched.
The hawk idly pecked at a louse under his wing. Finally, golden eye glittering in the high noon sun, empty eye gouged of the moon, the hawk said, "Storm has come and gone. It smells like thunder."
"You're sitting on a power line," said Thursday's angel.
The hawk twitched when he thought he saw a dog in the grass, but it was a grey fox.
"You protect your humanity. We could use your help," said Thursday's angel, perched on the buzzing line.
The hawk turned its head. Looked at the angel with his burning yellow eye. "That's not why you're here. You're here for the thunder."
Thursday's angel had no response to that. It had been a crime of opportunity, his question. An attempt. They sat and waited and watched the empty road. Long minutes of buzzing wires and grass rustling in the long traveled wind. Less traveled than they. The angel. The black hawk.
Finally, the black hawk said, "I cut my mother's head off once. Do you think I should give her a new one for Mother's day?"
"I wouldn't know," said Thursday's angel. And the line buzzed and the wind blew. A drop of blood from far away battle blows fell to the road. Wet on the black tarmac. Nothing grew where it fell, which was odd in the hawk's experience, but it wasn't his blood.
"Or maybe roses." The hawk's next words were cut off by the rumble of the black car below. It raced down the road's straight line. It consumed the road's whole width. The grass bent before it and after lay spent of seeds. Thursday's angel waited until it had passed. He left in a rustle of unseen wings.
The hawk could see them. With one eye. He waited a moment and then made roses from the angel's blood for his mother.
The professor leaned across the flat table and grinned at her students. Her neckline was high, but the cut of her red suit was good. Sharp shapely with her hair all a-bun. Her grin was the key. Her words the deadbolt's click. Her tapping fingers the incitement to riotous thoughts.
Her students told each other stories about her. How she'd been a pole dancer to put herself through graduate school. How she'd been a dominatrix. A prostitute. Others rolled their eyes and went with soldier on the GI bill. Special forces. Killing with a finger. They were not true stories. Her story was not that simple. She encouraged them.
That day, she leaned across the fake wood table and offered contradictions in history. A space for argument and they argued. She fed on the slow hum of it. She'd decimate a tenth of their papers with red ink. A tenth of the papers would be turned in with poetry in praise of her. It was her due.
In her office hours, she entertained the Hunters. They had questions for her. She smiled at them and winked. Not at them. At the angel standing behind them. When they'd gone, Thursday's angel tilted his head and said, "You are a goddess of war. I could use your help."
The professor said, "And love. I am both. A mother too. A sister. A daughter." She plucked one of his feathers from his thousand wings. Long black and insubstantial. "Use this to write a poem on his skin." She gave him back his own feather. A brush of fingertips and time's tide.
"That's not what I came here for," said Thursday's angel.
She Mona Lisa smiled and picked up a red pen of desolation. He left when she began.
Thursday's angel looked down at the bed. A slice of street light slivered through the curtains across the room. Across the bed. It looked like moonlight on the Hunter's skin. Thursday's angel held the feather in his fingers and it burned. The Hunter twitched in his sleep. His brother turned over in the dark. When all was ash, Thursday's angel wrote his poem on the Hunter's skin. Across his forehead and his sleeping-dream eyes. Over the bow of his lips, curved. Down the pillar of his neck. Through his shirt and the sheets and chest. It was a long feather. A long poem. He leaned over the Hunter. One hand insubstantial on the bed. Two knees. The bed did not give under his weight. Still he bent over. Insubstantial coat brushing on both sides of the Hunter. He wrote all the way down the Hunter's chest. Into the valley of his stomach. Over his groin in dark long words. Curving words. Looping curves down his legs. Finished on the bottoms of his feet. A signature. Ash Thursday poetry that couldn't be seen.
The thing they faced the next day would see it. Thursday's angel could see it. His words. His wish. The Hunter moved in his sleep. Pressed his face into his pillow. Thursday's angel pressed a palm to the mark on the Hunter's shoulder and stood a long while in the dark.
Finally, Thursday's angel went outside. He lay on the hood of thunder, as the brothers sometimes did, and looked up at the stars. There weren't many to be seen. For a long time and through the night, he watched satellites and planes that looked like shooting stars. That looked like falling angels full of grace.