Order falconiformes, family accipitidae
Trees are wheeling in my dream.
Diminish to a dot down here on green,
my own face looks back up at me,
as smaller ground-hugging birds erupt –
warning shrieks from silver crowns –
choughs and currawongs harass great shapes
soaring to a higher clip above Muyan, silver wattle.
Three dots melt over Yarra Valley dazzle-pools
where a water ribbon threads low hills
with billabongs prinked with biel, the river red gum.
They climb to firestick lands,
three on their feather fingers glide
like panketye, the boomerang –
the leaf-crowns seethe on northerlys,
spring grass seas stream, the new life darts.
In high summer's dreaming light,
three eagles circle whitewashed trees.
All day without a single wing-beat,
three are balanced on the air,
silent shadows first,
their wings curve to the earth's far sides,
on whisperings, on slip-rimmed stealth.
A life-long devoted pair, with juvenile in tow
still eking tutelage:
the awkward chick will earn luxuriance,
rich cape and chestnut nape,
its bushy gaiters frothing over claws.
Aerobatic displays at breeding time,
the male stoops to check
abruptly when his mate flips on her back –
they link enamoured claws in free-fall corkscrew loops.
Then ragged mat of sticks.
A first hatchling tears
the second chick apart,
til every feather's gone:
bolts its brother's bone, beak and shell down.
Wings hinged low,
the talons lift warm softness up,
wedge-tail splayed to brake and balance.
The back-turned toes are hooked,
front-facing claws outstretched
at a hundred clicks
impale a rabbit's life.
Raptor means clasp:
dead gravity of break-neck weight
stiffens in an ice vice.
The female floating fully stretched,
dives on fold-back wings:
head slung down on turret neck,
the black beak hooked.
From the slipstream-whittled torso's soft torpedo,
eyes huge for body size face forward:
binoculars, eight times keener than a swallow's,
read fine prints from two miles high.
Look! Aquila audax, the bold bird.
Quil fortuitous, writes death sentences
on pasture parched to summer parchment,
plummets down through its own shadow
in jet-black mid-day ink.
Three skirmish up through sunbursts,
are crescent moons at sundown –
on nights of white-pricked blackness
are stars thrown up between the poles
of the kunewallin, the Southern Cross,
stringless kites still tilting to the sky.
- 109: NO THEME 12with C Maling & N Rhook 108: DEDICATIONwith L Patterson & L Garcia-Dolnik 107: LIMINALwith B Li 106: OPENwith C Lowe & J Langdon 105: NO THEME 11with E Grills & E Stewart 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones