“VISITATION” ~ Eagle Poem

American Bald Eagle Brenda Jones profile

Princeton’s American Bald Eagle, Monarch, by Brenda Jones

Long ago, when Ilene Dube asked me to create a Princeton Packet Blog on nature, she particularly asked me to include some of my poems.  In Cool Women readings over the years, “Visitation” was a favorite.

American Bald Eagle and Sculler Brenda Jones

‘Princeton’s’ American Bald Eagle and Sculler in Morning Fog, Lake Carnegie, by Brenda Jones

It was written, frankly, to a very vivid vision.  You can tell from the tactile descriptions how supremely real this scene was to me.

Eagles 2 Carnegie Trees Dec Brenda Jones

‘Princeton’s’ Mated Pair of American Bald Eagles, by Brenda Jones

It was years ago, and wintertime, when eagles court and nest, as they are now, all over our state.

Eagle gathering nest materials Brenda Jones

Eagle Gathering Nest Material, by Brenda Jones

At the time, there were no Princeton eagles.  But, within weeks of this vision, I came upon ‘our’ female, on a tree near the end of the sculling race venue on Carnegie Lake.  How serene she was, awaiting her true love.  How peacefully, majestically he soared around that point, float-coasting onto a tree not too near.  It was as though she had always known he would arrive.

Amer Bald Eagle flying straight Brenda Jones

Majestic Soaring American Bald Eagle over Carnegie Lake, by Brenda Jones

It was January 3rd, my real sighting.  My dear friend Janet Black’s (one of the Intrepids) birthday.  The sun was going down, but the curtain was rising on the courtship  of the male and female bald eagle who would then begin, successfully, to raise and to fledge young, each year on the shores of our fake but essential lake..

Eagles Immature side-by-side Brenda Jones

Immature ‘Princeton’ Eagles, Side-by-Side at Carnegie Lake Nest, by Brenda Jones

As dusk triumphed over the January daylight, for the first time in my life, I heard the eagles, ‘our’ eagles, singing love songs.  I was very aware that this courtship meant that our waterway had been preserved and healed enough to nourish eagle generations.

EagleJuvenileflyingoffwithfish3-1-11DSC_7643

‘Princeton’ Immature Bald Eagle, One of its first flights, by Brenda Jones

But “Visitation” is not a hopeful poem.  Published in Cool Women, it is my own song of despair over habitat despoilation.

Eagles Immature Brenda Jones

‘Princeton’s’ Juvenile Eagles, ‘branching’, by Brenda Jones

But, sometimes, despair can be conquered by life itself.

Brenda Jones, fine art photographer, has given me great gifts of bird images over the years.  I send you her eagles, ‘our’ eagles, to remind you, as Brenda and her husband, Cliff would do, to support your local land trust; to save land and water in New Jersey every chance you get. 

Because saving land is saving habitat. 

Because saving land is saving huge swathes to absorb CO2 and slow catastrophic climate change. 

 

Because eagles, frankly, are essential. 

 

Here is “Visitation”, after whose writing, despair turned to delight:

VISITATION

 

I finally reach

a windy crest

my turquoise jacket

welcome against

spring’s late chill

 

I feel more than see

the eagle settle

upon flat granite

to my right

he gulps that entire landscape

at one glance

 

slow, steady,

I extend

my arm

so he can step determinedly

onto my padded sleeve

 

my eyes are not one inch

from his

so gold, flickering

flames surrounding the dark centers

as coronas ring an eclipse

gaze steadier

than any

I have ever known

 

gusts ruffle

his dark shoulder feathers

stirring blue glints in sun

the air could not be more electric

if he were bearing

thunderbolts

 

he rests his left cheek

against my own

 

inside my heart

small fists tattoo

within that rosy cage

some prisoner

implores escape

wakens me

to life without eagles

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

 

 

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