APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Raymond Carver’s ‘Eagles’

  • By David M. Kinchen, with information from Knopf 

 Raymond Carver (1938-1988), was a poet before he was celebrated as a writer of short stories. Here is “Eagles,” from his 1985 collection Where Water Comes Together with Other Water.

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Eagles

It was a sixteen-inch ling cod that the eagle
dropped near our feet
at the top of Bagley Creek canyon,
at the edge of the green woods.
Puncture marks in the sides of the fish
where the bird gripped with its talons!
That and a piece torn out of the fish’s back.
Like an old painting recalled,
or an ancient memory coming back,
that eagle flew with the fish from the Strait
of Juan de Fuca up the canyon to where
the woods begin, and we stood watching.
It lost the fish above our heads,
dropped for it, missed it, and soared on
over the valley where wind beats all day.
We watched it keep going until it was
a speck, then gone. I picked up
the fish. That miraculous ling cod.
Came home from the walk and—
why the hell not?—cooked it
lightly in oil and ate it
with boiled potatoes and peas and biscuits.
Over dinner, talking about eagles
and an older, fiercer order of things.

More on this poem and author:

 

Excerpted from ALL OF US, © 1996 by Tess Gallagher; WHERE WATER COMES TOGETHER WITH OTHER WATER © 1984, 1985 by Raymond Carver. Excerpted by permission of Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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