The Fine Art of Suspension

Hebe Watering Zeus Eagle:
Johann Baptist Lampi

A night shadow, bold and fringed,
crosses the moon. Tamed by gravity,
an eagle lands on a woman’s wrist,
the flesh on her arm tender and tearable
in beak and claws, if the bird so wished.

The artist knows terrestrial touch is not
a raptor’s domain, so one wing, the span
of nightmares, stays raised, curved behind
bare shoulders like a pinioned collar.

In my backyard, I offer songbirds
simple seeds, but uninvited, a hawk
arrives to feast on fragile wings.
It patrols the fence, a sky terror
with talons that send the feeding
sparrows into hedges to twitter in distress.
Eyes fixed as the moon, fierce with hunger,
the hawk stares into the tangle of branches
for shadows that might flush into flight.

Is it my presence that holds this moment
safe, keeps the hawk’s claws locked
on the fence? I could change the sparrows’
fate if I desired. And what holds an eagle
and this woman in the assurance of
suspension? If the painted moon blinked
out, the balance of light shifted, would
the claw or the arm win?

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About the Author

Carolyn Dahl is the 2020 winner of the Poetry of the Plains and Prairies chapbook contest for A Muddy Kind of Love, which will be published by North Dakota State University. Her 2019 chapbook, Art Preserves What Can’t Be Saved, was a first place winner in the National Federation of Press Women’s Communication contest, the Press Women of Texas’ contest, and also received an Honorable Mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

Carolyn Dahl
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