My enemy had hatched her young,
Made real the heady boasts she’d sung,
And when I saw the cherished thing,
I vowed it would not fly or sing.
My talons tightened in its fluff.
Their points were digging deep enough
That blood and dung and shrieks sprang out —
This wasn’t what I’d thought about
All those weeks in my moldy hollow.
No, by all rights it didn’t follow
That, blood to blood, its heart, my pulse
Battered each other. It convulsed
Against no claws or hard joints now
But two plain, helpless hands. Yet how —
When, quickly as a lamp is lit,
It grew, then slashed and gouged and bit
Up in the harrow of the air —
Was I to take my prey back there?
I struck, I buckled. He might know,
Who hung, millennia ago
From nails like mine but did not leave
Even the predator to grieve.
But where was He? Nothing below
Appeared but damp trees, ragged snow,
Dead reeds — a dead end like a cave;
Like smoke, for all the light it gave.
My wings were shriveling, but I
Must make my way through that cold sky
To somewhere that could hardly be,
With what I’d taken into me.
— From the September 2, 2013 issue of National Review.