Copyright is held by the author.
Alone, lying on my back
in a haystack of tundra,
arctic wilderness, no shade, no trees,
exposed under winking sun
and wet Aleutian wind.
I pull my parka tighter and watch
the black spec soaring over sawtooth ridge
circling once and heading toward me
too high for a gull, too large —
an eagle with wings broader
than my outstretched body.
A shiver enters my ankles
up along my jean hems
as if I were naked as a salmon
beneath its razor talons,
silver skin torn open on grey slate,
steaming pink flesh hanging
in strings from hooked beak.
The eagle spirals above me
ever lower and tighter,
spinning a vortex, lifting my mind
above my body. I see myself lying there,
dark in the sea of brown grass,
out of place to eyes that know
every crevice, every prey,
scanning my prone figure for a twist
of fin or gill, an open wound
from pounding water and sharp rock,
an easy catch or carrion, easier still.
The eagle swerves closer, opal eye
testing my parka’s nylon skin,
the fevered flesh underneath,
and I force my breath to slow,
my tendons stretching to flip away,
reading no mercy, no fear,
just the predatory math of hunger and risk,
its own survival. With one more swoop
I wave my arms, but the eagle
has tilted toward the shore,
leaving me staring at congealed clouds
and the cold comfort of sudden rain.