by Gerri Leen
The cry of what we laughingly called hawks used to amuse us when our cargo ship first crashed here, but then we found ourselves alone and prey of these rhino-sized birds. Hunting us, working in packs—no place was safe if you acted on instinct and ran like a spooked jackrabbit, which some of us did early on.
But we learned not to, no matter how unnerving it felt to wait out an attack.
It was my grandmother Celeste who had the idea to steal a clutch from a nest. Unhatched eggs—would the chicks bond with us the way falcon chicks did back on Earth? And who would be fool enough to go steal them?
She was, sneaking with my besotted grandfather to the nest, day after day, waiting for the moments—few and far between—when the parents would leave. Then my grandparents would make the switch, substituting painted facsimiles, rolling the real eggs gently down until we had them all and kept them warm until they hatched
The chicks looked to us not at, taking their cues from us, and in her honor, we started calling them Celestine Raptors and now we rule these plains, riding birds that by rights should tear us apart for our hubris but who instead work with us, even show affection that always takes us by surprise.
The love of a raptor is matched only by the thrill of soaring atop one: the sun at our backs, the wind in our hair.
Gerri Leen is a Rhysling- and Pushcart-nominated poet from Northern Virginia who’s into horse racing, tea, collecting encaustic art and raku pottery, and making weird one-pan meals. She has poetry published in Strange Horizons, Dreams & Nightmares, Polu Texni, NewMyths.com and others. Visit gerrileen.com to see what she’s been up to.
Poetry by Gerri Leen:
"We Fly" April 2021