Aug 172011

Looking down and seeing the sky, my arms go out like an airplane, fingertips tipped up, palms smiling calmly downward. I am at the rim of Yosemite, there’s only a slight updraft, and the sun stoops behind me to see what I’m up to here at the corner of things.

I’m watching. An osprey drifts below me, looking even farther down for smaller prey. His wings are out, taut, directing invisibilities ineluctably. My feet are hooks gripping granite. The osprey circles a long time, and my shadow lands there, between his shoulders, as he roves round. We are down there in the sky together, like aquarium fish in friendly suspension. No sounds, just an unknown pressure holding us, helping us flow.

The osprey has eyes emboldened to follow the grass, to spot when a field mouse leaps or a marshy nest has been left unattended. Mothers have the other eyes, eyes sewn into shoulders to look above, to sense the spaceship and its fatal ray. While I watch, the mother-eyes, the trick of dragging one wing as if wounded, the minute and measureless care given each chick, each charge, the burrowing or hopping mother-eyes of the attentive mice as little as enamel pinheads, seem to have won out.

To the osprey, the valley remains unappetizing. His wide wings heave, breaching whale-fins changing course mid-ocean for the Azores. He retreats to the sky, his beak working slightly, empty, and then comes around between my boots, my hook-holds, and in a single rush is almost even with my spy-perch, where time and I had loitered unnoticed. The osprey is large now, a flying cat. And another stroke, skilled and even as a sculler’s, has him breaking the level of the cliff, his beak wide now, the hungry tongue stuck out like a stinger… and he cries out! Sharp angles of ice break over me, enter my ears, quake my bowels, my coat blown open slightly, my head cranking back to watch him ascend with a native vigor I possess only in dreams, my arms still open, my downward palms weeping.

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