Do I Hear the Messengers at Dawn?
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To some people, the bald eagle is a symbol of fertility, because it breeds in nests weighing a ton high in the trees and is fierce when fighting to protect its chicks. To some people, this sea bird is a fighter, impossible to tame, two-inch daggers for talons, eyes painted in equal parts patience and jaundiced suspicion; we stick it on coins and parade its image as we get out our guns, but the bald eagle is about to celebrate its first birthday off the endangered lists.
It’s been trapped and shot and poisoned in the name of sport or nuisance, but it has survived, much as we have since we walked out of Africa and won territory from the Neanderthals to build Starbucks and toll booths and libraries and ATMs. The eagle is what we hope we see in our mirrors.
Sometimes I wake up in places I had no idea I was visiting, but something surprises me that I recognize instantly for being expected. It makes perfect sense, for example, to wake up yesterday in the screech of birds squabbling over fish, and to stumble into the Pacific grays where these two bald eagles flash toward me from the ocean.
Some people view the eagle as a sacred messenger, and this is certainly my impression after finding myself without plan or schedule in Sekiu in the Olympic Peninsula.
The night before as I drove into town a huge orange glow in the sky enraptured me until I saw the sign for a prison. Hopes, burnt. I fell asleep happy to be on the water, but bothered by the tunes of a trap. These eagles blazing from dawn’s murk brought confirmation or warning, that my sense of freedom is not what it seems, that the future cannot bear the expense of my discarded plastics and fondness for chocolate and driving fast and cracking the sky with the razors of my flight.
Before I can ask them, “But where should I go?” they are in the trees, rasping their fey screee-aks all morning. The locals see me shoot, and point out better vantages, the best angles, offer tidbits of eagle facts and figures, and one man as he towels himself from his shave outside the home of his Chrysler tells me where to find a huge herd of elk; he’s got mental troubles, he says, disordered attention, has been here camping on the shore all winter, waiting for his son to be let out of the prison in two months, and now I realize as I write that he is another eagle, scrabbling to protect his own, but without talon or keen eye, a lonely loser who remembers at least to swallow his pills in between odd conversations with people like me, passing through, consuming even him for a story like this.
“Where do you go?” It is for the eagles to ask. Not me.
Where? Why I go is up to me, but move, Blue, because the future is a clamp, talons of steel piercing your dreams.
Do I get this message? Or does it get me?
Also by seanie blue
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