"Running With the Eagle"

This poem, the first of three that will be appearing at Every Day Poets, is up today! This is an older poem, one I wrote for a poetry class in college--I believe we had a choice between an academic research paper and writing a dozen or so of our own poems. Hmmm, wonder how long I weighed those options...

At one level, this is very much a literal memory of the first time I saw a bald eagle in the wild, canoeing down the Little Muskegon River when I was a camp counselor. Early in the 3- or 4-hour trip, I saw a large bird fly around the bend, wondered if it was an eagle, but then dismissed the possibility. Much later, as we neared the backwater of the Croton Dam, I came around a corner and finally realized that this really was an eagle. It flew downriver from us a pair of times, but the third time it simply perched on a high branch and ignored us as we floated underneath. In the meantime, it had frightened a great blue heron, and the rest of the trip to the backwater, the heron took off, screaming at us, each time we rounded a corner. I've never, before or since, heard a heron make any such vocalization.

I set myself up a bit by dedicating this to Hopkins. I mean, where do I get off mentioning his name alongside my poem? The poem itself doesn't feel like a Hopkins poem, and so I just want to say that it isn't meant to. In certain places, I made conscious word choices to create a brief feel of his poetry, but otherwise it is not meant as a pastiche or imitation at all. The opening line, though, is meant to be a response to his "Windhover," which begins, "I caught this morning morning's minion..." and is also about a bird of prey (sort of). And that's all I'll say about that.