On Sighting a Bald-headed Eagle

by Julie-ann Rowell

Steep above me, on the handle
of a red cedar, sits white-haired
fish eater, steering for a chance.

I wait for his drop
to the rocks, flash of brown feather,
giant yellow feet, comic

in a jagged sense. This art
of danger I’ve never
learned, this turn, this complete

dependency on prey. A flurry
of effort and his wings are flapping
flat on the surface of the creek,

as if broken, but he lifts his body
off and up, his talons empty,
to wing to the stem he chose.

Julie-ann Rowell’s first pamphlet collection, Convergence, published by Brodie Press, won a Poetry Book Society Award. Her first full collection, Letters North, was nominated for the Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in Britain and Ireland in 2011. She has been teaching poetry in Bristol for ten years.