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Resist Imposter Syndrome

You may have had the same experience as the poet, M. Soledad Caballero. Today's mindful poem first describes her resistance to calling herself a "birder". She then goes on to identify enough birds to impress most of us!

The feeling of "I'm not good enough" has its own label - "Imposter Syndrome". Please remember - "You are enough"!

“Someday I will visit Hawk Mountain”

by M. Soledad Caballero

I will be a real birder and know raptors

by the shape of their wings, the span of them

against wide skies, the browns and greys

of their feathers, the reds and whites like specks

of paint. I will look directly into the sun, point and say,

those are Black Vultures, those are Red-Shouldered

Hawks. They fly with the thermals, updrafts, barely

moving, glide their bodies along the currents, borrowing

speed from the wind. I will know other raptors,

Sharp-Shinned Hawk, the Cooper’s Hawk, the ones

that flap their wings and move their bodies during the day.

The Merlins, the Peregrine Falcons, soaring like bullets

through blue steel, cutting the winds looking for rabbits,

ground hogs that will not live past talons and claws.

I will know the size of their bones, the weight

of their beaks. I will remember the curves, the colors

of their oval, coal eyes. I will have the measurements,

the data that lives inside their bodies like a secret

taunting me to find its guts. Or, this is what I tell myself.

But, I am a bad birder. I care little about the exact rate

of a Northern Goshawk’s flight speed. I do not need

to know how many pounds of food an American Kestrel

eats in winter. I have no interest in the feather types

on a Turkey Vulture. I have looked up and forgotten

these facts again and again and again. They float

out of my mind immediately. What I remember:

my breathless body as I look into the wildness above,

raptors flying, diving, swirling, bodies of light, talismans,

incantations, dust of the gods. Creatures of myth,

they hang in the sky like questions. They promise

nothing, indifferent to everything but death.

Still, still, I catch myself gasping, neck craned up,

aching, follow the circles they build out of sky,

reach for their brutal mystery, gravitate to

their promethean promise, the alien spark of more.

- M. Soledad Caballero was a guest on the podcast "Poetry Unbound" on May 16, 2022. You can sign up here for the latest from Poetry Unbound.

- Caballero is a Professor of English and chair of the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Allegheny College. Her first collection, titled I Was a Bell, won the 2019 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award.

- Photo by Trac Vu on Unsplash

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