Finally Learning to Fly

many years ago
under sunny skies
I, a young eagle
who hadn’t learned to fly
watched with fascination at
another, high overhead,
soaring the blue
commanding the thermals

he landed before me, offering
a fresh-caught salmon
which I devoured
his smile already knew my name
instantly, we became friends

he took me under his wing
white, strong, gentle
mentoring me about
adult eagle matters
and how I could
earn my wings and fly

I idolized him, and wanted
to grow up just like him

we shared three happy years
in his private, cozy nest
just the two of us
he offered me lots more salmon
that became less
and less and
like what I’d enjoyed
that first sunny day

it tasted strange, yet sweet
I didn’t know if it was
good or bad for me
I became torn between
pleasure and worry
fascination and fear

but he reassured me that
it was fresh and nourishing
so I ate it many times

he would often often
trim my feathers
gently using his claws and beak
saying they would
grow back stronger and
I would fly higher

I resisted, but
he was friendly and kind, and
it felt nice to be cared for

he said the ancient eagles
would often groom
the younger ones this way
he knew that in eagle school
I was learning
about the ancients
who I thought were very cool
so he taught me about them too

I trusted that
the salmon and grooming were good
I reminded myself that
he cared deeply for me, and
I questioned myself about
why I would ever
think otherwise

I remember it all
the way he flew in perfect circles
the seashells decorating his nest
the waxy feel of his brilliant feathers
the softness of his talons and beak
the way he showed me how
my feathers were maturing, and
how they differed from his own

I remember the pain in my belly
I remember it all
because yesterday
will always be today

eventually I noticed that
his eyes had become glowing embers
his claws had become razor blades
his feathers had turned black
and was forcing me into a cage
made of rotting bones

so after struggling with myself
I broke free of the bone cage
vomited the last of his salmon
and left his filthy nest for good

for many years afterwards
my wings failed me
but I became really good at
rejecting my eagle friends
destroying my own nest
swearing and crying
again and again

not once did I soar
like my eagle friends
and I told myself that
I was never really meant to fly

but now, after
decades of crash-landings
which I thought normal
my feathers are growing in
thick and strong, and
I’m finally learning to soar

soar far and wide
with joy and pride
in the storms, in the darkness
on the thermals, in the blue

2 thoughts on “Finally Learning to Fly

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