As I watch the eagle rise above the bay, I let myself drift out beyond an edge, as though I were moving across the edge of sleep…I am filled with the same disdainful surge that releases him from his perch, feel the strain of air trapped in the hollows of his wings…The eagle sweeps away in great, lazy arcs, drifts against the corniced peaks, and soars up toward the smooth layer of cloud…At three thousand feet, the feathered sails flex and shake against a torrent of wind…I can feel the lash of gusts as the eagle planes above the mountain, gaze through his eyes at the fissured, snow-laden peak, and share the craving that draws him more deeply into the island’s loneliness…I have flown, however artificially, and have looked down over the island and the strait. But I can never know what the eagle sees with those blazing eyes, what are the shapes of mountains and shores amid the maze of detail that leaps into his brain.
There is the eagle’s world, and there is mine, sealed beyond reach within our selves. But despite these insuperable differences, we are also one, caught in the same fixed gaze that contains us. We see the earth differently, but we see the same earth. We breathe the same air and feel the same wind, drink the same water and eat the same meat. We share common membership in the same community and are subject to the same absolutes. In this sense, the way we receive what surrounds us is irrelevant: I have the eagle’s eyes and the eagle has mine.
- Photograph: John de Grooth
- Related Richard Nelson / Eagle Post: Every stub. Every whisker. Every mole. Every freckle. Every eyelash.