Harpy Eagle Father

by Pascale Petit

When I think of my father in the furnace –
the gas jets aimed at his chest,
fire-wings budding from his shoulders
and his mouth opening with its lit interior,
his tongue delicate as an icicle –

I want to be a harpy eagle mother,
feed dainties into his beak, its red
gape wide open to the Amazon.
I want to guard my precious snowflake
unsteady on his talons in the hot nest.

I want to guide my chick as he inches onto a branch
and shakes the blizzards of his wizard-wings.
Oh take your time, I want to say,
before the fledge. Perch here to watch
the howler monkeys of this forest.

Wait before you grow coverts
grey as ash, your primaries lifting
in violet air. Let the combustion chambers
of your under-wings pulse
with maelstroms of white down.

May the double haloes of your body
lift slowly and your head sprout
its adult harpy crest. Before
you’re off, up and through
the trees, trailing a smoky wake.