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Bald Eagle

ISSUE:  Summer 1937

By the wide blue of Merrymeeting Bay I came upon an eagle at his play,
No mate was there, he was all sole alone With his life upon him, and I turned stone.
It could have been two thousand years ago And eagles in the air as thick as snow,
I staring from a still Algonquian face And this bird not the last of a lost race,
I and the bird made one by unseen bands Stronger than the oak roots or my hands.
He did not know tame, cautious things like me
Were spying there upon his savagry,
So threw his body level on the air,
Slashed with his wings, spread his hooked lips to tear
The afternoon’s great silence settled there
Into high-pitched laughter and harsh mirth.
He hung head downwards, despising the cold earth
Who hugs her children to her tight for fear
They may go falling upwards into the clear
Nothingness the Jonely suns breed in.
He hung on his own strength as on a pin,
His joy was all that kept him in the blue,
Then he closed his wings up, and he threw
His body like a meteor, fast as light,
Deep down to the bay and out of sight.
He came up with no fish, but taut with pride,
Knowing that all fish within the tide
Were his to take or leave, he flexed his claws
And spread his feathers out like words of laws,
Beat up wing and wing, till he saw plain
All secrets the bay held, all fish.
He dived, and this time came up smoking
With spray and brought a white fish choking, Half the size that he was, turned it right So it was a rudder to his flight,
Hooked at its spine with his two bladed feet,
Brought it to shore before me, bowed to eat,
Bending his shawled, fierce neck between His hunched shoulders, tore the entrails clean In one slash between his beak and claw.
Then I moved an inch.
The eagle saw Behind his lowered head and shot away,
Grew small, and vanished in a common day.


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