Tamer and Hawk

Faber Anthology

Read all the way through for the surprise twist ending!

I attended some of the East Van Culture Crawl last weekend but in a fairly typically me fashion my favorite part of the day was rummaging through a church’s used book sale. I bought one book, what is turning out to be a rather promising anthology. This one poem is why I bought it…I’m always a sucker for a good love poem. Totally worth the dollar.

Tamer And Hawk

By Thom Gunn

I thought I was so tough,
But gentled at your hands
Cannot be quick enough
To fly for you and show
That when I go I go
At your commands.

Even in flight above
I am no longer free:
You seeled me with your love,
I am blind to other birds –
The habit of your words
Has hooded me.

As formerly, I wheel
I hover and I twist,
But only want the feel,
In my possessive thought,
Of catcher and of caught
Upon your wrist.

You but half-civilize,
Taming me in this way.
Through having only eyes
For you I fear to lose,
I lose to keep, and choose
Tamer as prey.

Now here comes the mind-bending part. Typically upon reading something like this, especially when the book is old, you expect that it’s a man writing about a woman. Given this misunderstanding my friend and I had an entire conversation following this about gender dynamics in relationships. Well pals, Thomas Gunn, for those like me who didn’t know, was an openly gay poet.

I love the idea of love without gender, a real equality of “catcher and caught” with no preconceived idea of who is prey and who is the predator. It seems like there would be a lot of freedom in that.

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