the rapture of raptors

Having just finished Mary Alice Monroe’s Skylark, which is set at a clinic that rehabilitates injured raptors, I was reminded of this:
She sleeps where soft sea sounds
nestle in the branches of feathery pines.
Daylight takes her wherever her whims fly,
but night calls her home.
Osprey sleeps alone above the shore’s great stones,
far from the place of her own birth nest,
near the crooning song of Mother Sea,
near the place long abandoned by her own nestlings.
She waits in a separate space between
land and water, between darkness and time.
Sometimes she dreams of another –-
of plummeting together from a quiet place in the sky
to slash in unison through the glittering ocean cover
toward the quick silver flashes that beckon
just under the surface — of pairs of eager talons
clutching at flesh, slippery, sweet, and alive.
Osprey wakes with the first light, watches
the curtain of clouds part to reveal morning’s intention.
She lifts her head to the sky, and stretches her wings
to catch the subtle singing in the air.
She stands and steps, thoughtlessly
chipping new pits into old stones,
poises toward the sun, embraces
the wind, and flies.
As she turns her back to the sun;
her night-tightened feathers open smoothly
to its honest heat. Below her massive wings,
the sea wind rises clear and reassuring,
and she lets it carry her higher and higher
into the sacred peace of morning sky.
It is here that she can hear her own voice,
coarse and heroic, calling…calling..
But a quickening hunger finds its way,
awakening bone and tendon. With a last bold cry
she slides down the edge of morning toward
the tempting surface of the sea.
She circles with eye toward a sudden glassy patch
and in an instant, glimpses a shape like her own –
a certain bend of wing, stretch of claw, glint of eye —
a shadow. Or a dream.
Suddenly, she falls, wings suspended,
claws arched and ready, eyes
gripping the spot where her talons will
cut, quick and elemental.
And it is here that she feels her call’s answer –
in the salt of sea, of blood — the fill of flesh, of heart.
Her feathers dance in flames of air and water;
Her claws froth with the struggle of power and will.
The shadow dissolves.
A strangled cry.
© Elaine Frankonis 1989


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