Redtail atop the Larch

Wally Swist

Wally Swist

Red Tail atop the Larch was selected for MSUL’s themed call for work about Water, in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition, Flint is Family in Three Acts, featuring the photography of Latoya Ruby Frazier.

How you shake out your broad wings,
cleansing them in the rain, how you keep
spreading those pinions with the storm
still beating down on you atop
the enormous larch, whose crooked crown
points skyward, all the while you release
your hoarse cry into the lashing wind
and rain, losing your footing on a branch,
then regaining your perch with the vice grip
of your talons, undulating your wings
again, washing away whatever it is
you are trying to clean, possibly oil from
the cove at the marina, cleansing
and cleansing each of those chocolate-brown
wings and shaking them off, as a taunt
or in a fury, over and over again in
expressive heaves and ripples of your body
atop the larch, making the racks of the highest
branches rock in the rain and the wind,
with you as avatar, an emissary of the divine,
in shaking your heavy wet feathers,
by just unleashing the wildness from
within you, from your aerie, pivoting
from one branch to another to continue
to cleanse those wings you raise in the air
one at a time, the rain falling harder
and harder to the rhythm of your dance.

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