Bio Note: I live in Madison and spent the shut-in days of the pandemic companioned by vegetable gardening with my husband Will, birds, hikes through county parks with our pod of bird-watching friends, and meeting the challenges of Will's need for triple bypass surgery and recovery. The poems of those months became a book, Panic Season, (Tebot Bach, 2022), available now from spdbooks.org.
Watching the Eagles at Prairie du Sac
Below the dam the Wisconsin River runs, fast and open in January's lengthening light, silvery floes like windowpanes slipping past now and then as we stand in snow drift, our binoculars trained on the opposite bank, the tallest trees, where the eagles wait and watch with keener sight than ours for a hint of movement on the water and what's beneath--soaring down to skim and rise with another silvery shape in their feet. We count what we've seen: five eagles in that oak tree, three of them juveniles watching the hunt, learning to fish for themselves; four more adults in that tree, three more drying wings on the fallen log--twelve so far in all-- and in the oaks, seventy crows--or could they be starlings in a wintry flock? Overhead, the wide Vs of calling geese, shifting around their watery world; they must think we're fishing too, standing so still on the river's bank.
Fat bulb encased in silver wax, you sit, squat, an early Christmas gift, on the kitchen table--tips of leaves a bare suggestion in the scissored slit along your top, trimmed off--hint of chartreuse pushing out budded stalks, each bud fattening as stems climb, straining with the work to lift the whole trumpeting architecture of your nine swelling flowers over our daily oatmeal and soup-- green surge and blare of wide-open throats as your whole contraption of blasting red beauty shouts rebirth to our winter-frozen world.
falls lightly, steadily, as we drive home from watching the eagles fish, our highway divided and nearly empty, passing twelve black and white cows in the feed lot of a rusty red barn, black fans of silver maple and open grown oak, old arborvitae hedges grown to walls, planted by home- steaders long ago; and one turquoise-and-pink fiberglass cow in a yard with HOPE painted on its side. Under blue-iced snow the harvested ranks of corn stubble hold Wisconsin's rich black soil. Hope: how we live in the long winter cold.
©2022 Robin Chapman
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