bald eagles

On the way to grocery shopping, I looked up and saw these two bald eagles in a tree. I’ve seen hawks and golden eagles around town before, I have even seen some bald eagles in Auburn before, but these two were huge. I can’t figure out what else was so different about them, but it seemed like such an anachronism. Maybe it was their nonchalance as they preened themselves and looked around like they’d always been there. Maybe they have always been here, it wouldn’t have surprised me if they got up and started dancing. They were just there, and the world world seemed to be moving around them. It was sort of a haiku moment.

I wrote down two lines after seeing the eagles:

in a bare tree
two bald eagles

This could be a good start to a haiku. But I set it up to go in a specific direction using the words ‘bare’ and ‘bald’ so how to twist it to go in an unexpected direction?
I am not comparing the tree and the eagles, they are one image, but the baldness/empty/bereft/bare feeling evoked by the similar words ‘bald’ and ‘bare’ create a strong push to go in the direction of describing something else as being a bald spot or empty.

Starting with the two lines I did some free writing and came up with a few other images and ideas, some of which came from the drive to the store, others just connected to the feeling of the first image in a brainstorming kind of way. Some of the lines and ideas I came up with are: looking lost, traffic swirls, traffic slows, looking for another time, watch construction work, watch road construction, watch planes land, and a play on the city of Auburn logo: imagine more. Some of these are a bit too subjective to make good haiku, but screw that, this is poetry not law, if it works it works and to hell with the rules. The line I ended up choosing started as, watch the city, but then it occurred to me that all the construction is making the city bigger, the city is growing, so my final version is:

in a bare tree
two bald eagles
watch the city grow

I like this version because the word ‘grow’ fits the organic feel of the previous lines, but mostly because of how it twists the concept of barrenness around. We humans often think of our cities as oasis’ in a barren wilderness, but in my poem, I switch it around and have the eagles (representing wilderness) viewing the human city as a bald spot, as a place bereft of interest. Which fits my first impression of seeing these eagles, they were detached, they were above it all.


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