Ornithology Of An Omen

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One night, two winters past
when fall's first chill was coming on
the moon rose full
on the Eastern rim of the valley.
By the time it climbed to the higher branches
of the old apple tree in the yard
we had finished a late dinner
& Johnny headed out to his cabin to sleep.
Just out the door his excited shout
ran the length of the valley & back
to pull us out under the sky.
Aurora borealis ringed the entire horizon
like dawn encroaching on every front
in some surprise maneuver to surround us.
And high in the center of the Southern sky
just to the right of that moon
the lights had become fiery white eagles,
unmistakable in form!
With feathers flared & soaring wings
they streaked across the sky
from a hole in the stars.
     We climbed the roof in awe.
For some time no one spoke
we just watched those eagle lights go by.
      Finally it came around to story telling
the time a bald eagle
swooped at Mary's car
missing the windshield by a wingspread.
The bald eagle I'd seen in the Boundary Waters
a fierce mama eagle, she flew
within five feet of my face
when we canoed too close
to her invisible riverside nest & young.
I told about the eagle nest
I'd been taken to see as a child,
deep in swampland,
somewhere near Lake Skeegemog,
the fledgling's cries for food
& the small feathers I found below it
kept sacred for years.
The turtle eggs I carried home
perfect white spheres found in beachsand
I reburied them on the shore of our pond
hoping to see them hatch.
By then, all the eagles above us had flown
disappeared somewhere in the forest
to the North & behind us
invisible through the trees.
We thought the magic gone, though
the sky still ran silver & now some red.
There was still that hole in the stars.
It was cold.  We huddled & shivered
while Johnny told his eagle tales.
Someone said that to see an eagle
close, in the wild, was considered a sign
by Native Americans.  A spirit call to shamanism.
Finally the cold drove us off the roof
but as we gathered in the last of the blankets
the eagles returned.
They burned across the sky
wings moving in actual flight
& they plunged, one by one, back
through the hole in the stars.
We climbed the roof again & watched
till they were gone.
As the last of the eagles passed through,
the hole just closed up,
like some hidden door
to a secret passage.
The stars came back.
It was colder suddenly
& quiet.
The moon was climbin' down
a different apple tree
on the other side of the yard.
We almost whispered as we said "goodnight".
I don't think any of us slept.
There was no point in it.
We’d already seen something better
than any of us was like to dream.

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John T. Unger poet

I'm best known as an artist and designer. Relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.

Before becoming a visual artist, I spent 15 years as a poet. I studied poetry at Interlochen Arts Academy, Naropa, Stone Circle and on the streets. I performed my work for years at Stone Circle, solo shows, poetry readings, and at Lollapalooza in 1996.

I still write poems, but only if I can make them fit the constraints ofTwitter.

Mobile: 231.584.2710 (9 to 5 PST only) | Email me

Art IS my day job

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