Monday, January 6, 2014

Waiting for Eagles

Waiting for Eagles
by Bob Wake

Kate’s thirty-eight,
and that’s reason enough
to swaddle the baby and
gun the car toward Sauk City
hometown to August Derleth,
our son’s namesake (named for two
Augusts: Derleth and St. Augustine,
both rascals and divine writers)—
and haunt of eagles!
Off we go: a Wisconsin day-trip
born of birthday ennui and
a baby who always sleeps best
in a moving car. (Is he destined
for a career as a chauffeured
rock star or merely a
dangerously dozy chauffeur?)

Surely we’re not wise
to travel thus in January,
landscapes as barren as
the blankest stare. Summer
knows a sweeter language.
“Winter is nothing but an empty
white-trash shack atop a frozen lake,”
I grouse with driver’s-seat pomp.
“Thanks for the pleasant
thought on my birthday,”
Kate says from the back, beside
the snoozing Augie, and then she
returns to reading Lorrie Moore
in The New Yorker. Oh, Lord, I pray—
eyes open and on the road!—
let there at least be eagles today.

It’s too damn cold for the eagles,
is the theory as to why they never
show, although the view—
high above the banks of the Wisconsin
River—is breathtaking. As is the cold.
We scan the far shore, cliffs of
skeletal trees, but nothing.
“It’s too cold!” shouts Kate
from the railing. I’m in the car
with The New Yorker. The motor’s
running and our son is crying.
Now Kate’s in the car, warm breast
to the restless August, and I’m outside
with frozen binoculars—lenses like
ice cubes over my eyes—and
I’m waiting for eagles.

~ previously published in Caffeine and Other Stories
   (Cambridge Book Review Press)