Raptor Rapture

Last weekend I had the incredible privilege of holding in my hand, an American Kestrel; one of the “Ambassador Animals” at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.  Stryker, as this beautiful bird has been named, lives at the Museum, having been saved from a near-fatal injury which left it with a partially amputated right wing.

I have begun training to work with the Museum’s injured and rescued animals as a volunteer in its public education programming. I shared one experience a few weeks ago – my first encounter with Webster, the gorgeous corn snake.   And I am looking forward to learning more about all the “Ambassadors” at the Museum and sharing what I learn.

There is so much I could tell you already about this tiny falcon, this amazing avian predator; how its vision sees beyond our chromatic spectrum to pick up the ultraviolet urine trails of field mice,  or how it can hover – hang suspended in the air like the military’s Harrier jet – waiting for its prey to reveal itself.   But for now, I’ll just share this:


Let me tell you how
the heart leaps breath holds,
as this small creature dances,
talons pricking delicately now,
but (imagine) at another time
with fatal fierceness.

Settling, it grips a finger
and surveys the room.
The bright hard onyx of its eye,
seeing more and differently,
it becomes the ancient alien,
the wondrous other
of our weightless dreams,
our relentless, harrying fears.

© Kathleen Cerveny, 2018   


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