Today, they are not quite alone. A solemn visitor watches them from a distance, shifting awkwardly atop a pole that is too small for him. Destitute Shoshone warriors who died near the banks of the Bear River 40 minutes north of here would have called him bagwêshi. Sun bird, a symbol of health and fertility. He’s heavy and tired now, sacred feathers bending in broken angles.
Pebbles grind together as I pull into a hastily made shoulder. I take out the keys, slide out of my seat, and stand tall on the frame of the driver-side door. The wind pushes a curl between my opened lips and whorls the feathery nape of the sad giant above me. His head twists like an owl’s. I can’t perfectly see his eyes — I know they will be a deep yellow — but he glowers down at me and I feel like they are a piercing, icy blue. Blue like the Western sky stretching its limbs across the land.
|Portrait by JWFisher on DeviantArt|
Captured in him is sad history. Blood and Indian Paintbrush and tradition caught between agricultural progression and decay and suburbanization. Primordial loneliness in a sea of wires and connectivity.
Someone turns right off 91, and his body is immediately a deep, tense, building energy. His talons shift on the wood, his weight ripples through his feathers, and when he leaps into the air, it’s as if he’s pressing the whole sky down on me. Wings as long as I am tall furl open in a long streak, and I stretch my arms out, too.Trying it out.
I watch as the eagle, the sun bird, bagweshi becomes calligraphy in the distance, and the last thing I see is the white breach of his tail feathers as he leaves this place behind.