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.