Our Bird Aegis
An immature black eagle walks assuredly
across a prairie meadow. He pauses in mid-step
with one talon over the wet snow to turn
around and see.
Imprinted in the tall grass behind him
are the shadows of his tracks,
claws instead of talons, the kind
that belongs to a massive bear.
And he goes by that name:
Ma kwi so ta.
And so this aegis looms against the last
spring blizzard. We discover he’s concerned
and the white feathers of his spotted hat
flicker, signaling this.
With outstretched wings he tests the sutures.
Even he is subject to physical wounds and human
tragedy, he tells us.
The eyes of the Bear-King radiate through
the thick, falling snow. He meditates on the loss
of my younger brother—and by custom
suppresses his emotions.
Originally published in Callaloo. Copyright © 1996 by Ray A. Young Bear. Used with the permission of the author.