Red Tail

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John James Audubon/Public Domain

His yellow talons clutch a gnarled branch
not ten yards away. His regal head 
turns to take me in. When he turns back 
to look across the lake, I take one step 

toward him, another. He lifts and swivels his head,
tilts it down, drills his laser eyes
through my tail-tucked chihuahua. I drag her 
by the leash behind me, whisper, “Stay.”

He plumps his creampuff chest, turns away, 
pivots forward, spreads his wings, lifts
his red-fanned tail, excretes a stream of white.

I scoop up Maya, hold her tight,
look into her almond-sunshine eyes. 

He turns his blood-dark gaze back to his prey.