We come to where the Earth is deeply hurt
And thinly spread with living medicine,
And there we wander with our searchlight eyes
To see if any seeds have woken up
And stretched their arms above their rocky beds.
We travel slow and clumsy on the rocks
That shift and grate beneath our shifting feet;
We call and point and gather round each sprout—
Our feet must seem like giant feet to them—
And here a transplant has relaxed its fists
And promised to outgrow its little crib.
We slowly wend our way across a scene
That seems to be just barren empty gray
With here and there a sleepy grayish stick,
Until we blink our visionary eyes
And seem to see what it may someday be
When all the sticks and seeds are fully grown
And married, and have children of their own.
At length we pause beneath a rocky cliff
To rest our eyes and feet on something green.
We bend above a topsy-turvy plant
That’s fallen from the cliff’s eroding crown
And wonder what it was, now half-decayed.
We feel like we’ve been looking down for hours;
We straighten up and stretch and gaze around
And call each other eagerly to come
And see the first wild flower of the year.
There, halfway up the cliff, it calmly sits
As if on folded blankets, and its robes
Are buckskin thickly sewn with purple beads.
Some force has brought us here together now
At just this single lovely spot in time.
We lift our heads and see it sitting there
And pointing up, and so we all look up,
And just as we look up, way up the cliff
To where the rocks intrude upon the sky—
The blue blue sky, with clouds so paper-white,
As swift and ragged as a child can rip—
A bald eagle soars out overhead
And circles over us, and comes again.
“A bald eagle! Look!” we call out loud,
And then fall silent, wide-eyed to the sky,
And we begin to feel that nothing else
Has ever been so dark brown and so white
As this one perfect bird above us now.
It gazes down with telescopic eyes
And sees us with our eager upstretched arms;
It sees the medicine spread on this place
Where Earth is hurt, and cannot heal herself,
And seems to bless us with its beating wings.
We watch until it circles out of sight,
Then slowly go our various separate ways,
But in our thoughts we’re still beneath those wings
And tell ourselves that someday roots will win
And rocks will not shift underfoot again.