Saturday, January 30, 2016

Allison Grayhurst writes

Golden Eagle

Awakened from my dying
on the barren hill.
I speak my mind, and I am pulled off course,
rejected in my honesty,
as though I had no right to drum my dream,
as though silence and the undercurrent of resentment,
confusion and blame was so much better,
as if clarity was a betrayal - too much to ask,
too much to give.
But that is the name on that package
and it belongs back on the shelf.
That day of lower energy is over.
That was the rainbow from the wrong event
that soured when ingested, that left a pile of soot
on my doorstep. I am ready to release what must be released,
ready to be unattached and unafraid.
The zenith of my sky is open
and I feel something soft and perfect growing
in my pocket.



  1. The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is part of a group of raptors called “booted eagles,” defined by the feathering over their tarsus. With broad, long wings, from 66 to 102 cm (26 to 40 in) in length and from 1.8 (5 ft 1 in) to 2.34 m (7 ft 8 in), it weighs between 4.05 kg (8.9 lb) and 6.35 kg (14.0 lb) in its largest subspecies; however, a female that was banded and released in 2006 near the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming weighed 7.7 kg (17 lb). Birds bred for falconry have wingspans as large as 2.81 m (9 ft 3 in) and a mass of 12.1 kg (27 lb). Its hallux-claw (hind claw) ranges from 4.5 to 6.34 cm (1.77 to 2.50 in). Unique among eagles, it flies in a slight dihedral, meaning that its wings are held in a slight, upturned V. When soaring, it holds its wings and tail in one plane, with the primary tips spread, allowing a typical soaring speed of 45–52 kph (28–32 mph), but it may attain speeds up to 190 kmh (120 mph). When diving (stooping), it holds its wings tight and partially closed against its body, and the legs up against its tail, and can reach speeds of up to 320 kph (200 mph), making it the second fastest animal. Although most flight has a purpose (territoriality, hunting), solitary birds or well-established breeding pairs sometimes fly for enjoyment. Due to its hunting prowess, it has gained great mystic reverence from various tribal cultures, and falconers have used it to hunt and kill prey such as gray wolves. Raptors in general are not known for strong voices, but the golden eagle is particularly silent, even while breeding, and its voice is weak, high, and shrill, described as "quite pathetic" and "puppy-like." Although highly solitary outside of the bond between breeding pairs, exceptionally cold weather may cause golden eagles to perch together; in eastern Idaho, 124 individuals were observed perched closely along a line of 85 power poles. Essentially monogamous, pairs remain together for years, possibly for life. Females lay up to four eggs, and, after incubating for six weeks, typically one or two birds survive to fledge in about three months, after which they wander widely for four or five years until establishing a territory for themselves, often as large as 200 km2 (77 sq mi). It is still the most widely distributed species of eagle, but it was once widespread across the entire Holarctic, the terrestrial ecozone that encompasses most of the northern hemisphere. The American golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos canadensis)is probably the most numerous subspecies and the one with the largest breeding range, comprising most of Alaska and the rest of the United States west of a line from North Dakota to Texas; it once bred widely in the Appalachian Plateau, and a pair was known to nest in Maine until 1999, but human overpopulation has reduced its habitat. It breeds in all the Canadian provinces except Nova Scotia. The southern limits of its range are in central Mexico, from the Guadalajara area in the west to the Tampico area in the east.

  2. In a related note, since Allison is from Toronto, "Golden Eagle" may also resonate with her as the English name of Giniw-bine (Kineubenae, Quinipeno, Quenebenaw, meaning "golden eagle[-like partridge]" in Anishinaabe). Two generations earlier his Mississauga Ojibwa ancestors had swept southward from the Mississagi River on Georgian Bay, and by 1700 had expelled the Iroquois from the north shore of Lake Ontario. But the outbreak of the American Revolution led to the arrival of thousands of white and Iroquois refugees. In 1784 the Mississaugas were obliged to cede the western end of the lake in order to provide land for the newcomers, though they managed to retain the Mississauga Tract, between Burlington Bay (Hamilton Harbour) and the Credit River, and the understanding that "the Farmers would help us" and that the First Nations could "encamp and fish where we pleased," according to Giniw-bine. But, as he complained, the settlers "shoot our dogs and never give us any assistance as was promised to our old Chiefs." As the principal chief of his tribe on Twelve Mile (Bronte) Creek, in 1805 he negotiated with the British over the sale of the Mississauga Tract; in return for the entire lakefront, William Claus, deputy superintendent general of Indian affairs in Upper Canada, promised that the Mississaugas would keep the river mouths and their rights to the fisheries. (They retained the interior section until 1818, but the fish and game populations had declined drastically, and their own numbers had been severely reduced, from more than 500 to approximately 350.) By 1812, as a new war between the Americans and the British intruded into southern Ontario, Golden Eagle, "getting too old to walk," believed he had obtained "warrior’s medicine" after a fast. To demonstrate his newfound invulnerability he arranged for one of his companions to shoot at him when he raised a thin kettle before his face, assuring them that he would collect the bullet in the kettle. Instead, "the lead went into his head and ... killed him on the spot."


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?