American Bald Eagle


                                                                           Photo by Mark Seth Lender


Eagle Poem


To pray open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding our the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.


—Joy Harjo (b. 1951)

Field Note


Head north. Travel far enough and June is early Spring, and light begins in the night, and ends only when every fiber tells you it should have been dark for hours (though of course, it was not).  Late one of those daytime nights, Bald Eagle flew by on the way to his nest up on the ridgeline. In the morning, lightning hit the nest tree splitting the trunk in two and the crown crashing to the forest floor. He stood guard for days, staring down, once with a fish in his talons and no one to feed, sole survivor of an entire family, mate and two fledglings nearly old enough to fly.


Mark Seth Lender


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"Eagle Poem" by Joy Harjo from In Mad Love and War. Copyright © 1990 by Joy Harjo. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.