In autumn we crept down a mulched path
to the bank where cattails shone, bulrushes
concealing scarlet flags of the blackbirds.
The forest: humid scent of leaf-mold,
skittering of squirrels, the old buck’s track
toward a copse of knotted cedars.
I wanted to believe it wouldn’t end
and stepped behind you soundlessly
like one of the spirits who inhabit
these woods. We reached the blind,
finally, and trained our field glasses
until a few white spots gleamed—
eagles’ heads against pines—there, on the ridge.
Then, above us, one rose, and I held my breath.
There’s a furious sound— seven feet of wing
feathers displacing the air. What remains
as it ascends but a repetitious longing
and the silence that follows departure?
Wind for days, and then frost. As I walked
the trail without you, my shoes crushed
a lace of ice. Every eagle was gone.
Once I held one in my sights until its shape
blurred—the horizon overtook it, and the haze.
I scanned but could not locate the vanishing point.