I saw nothing, said nothing. My father pointed at the Makita-blue sky. I shielded my eyes; he squinched his face. “Swear it made off with a fawn,” he said. It was twenty years ago, and I don't know if there was a deer-eating eagle or not. He saw so many things. But now I can see that airborne eagle born in these words. My father told me of the people in his shadow, of their silver eyes and cat-like voices. “Gets harder and harder to sleep,” he said. “Mind always racing.” Once in Alaska I saw a flock of eagles, a dozen circling a salmon run. I snapped hundreds of photos; I even told the story a few times. Those birds swept down with great urgency, talons punching the water, tearing into fish flesh, sometimes with a force that cut the salmon in two. Headless fat-bellied salmon, caudal fin whipping thermal currents, even still, it swam for home.
Great Birds in Mid-Flight
A hawk hung in the Florida sky riding a thermal. Until it fell. Gravity worked against its heart-stopped body, headlong and barrel-chested. Feathers flinching. I imagined its eyes drawing on a rabbit or a mole—a death vision of some late-great hunt. I returned to my childhood, father chasing me, arms stretched like wings, his loops and barrel rolls. I felt heavy watching him dive towards the earth, falling jaw first. He had hit his head on a rock, soil soaking his sun-glint blood. He touched his head, a flap of flesh hanging over his eye. It was the first time I’d ever seen a human bone, and through labored breaths, he said, “Oh, wow, Oh, wow, Oh, wow,” until the words lost meaning.