The Sun Bird

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I sat by the water, among the ducks and the geese. The stream, milky and deep, sifted into the river. I watched the reflections of newly unfurled cottonwood trees get caught in its currents.

As I turned my head, an osprey poured forth from the sun, its wings a mask, patterned and finely painted. Twice her wings lifted, and she glided upriver. She’ll head up north, I thought; to a sandy patch of shrub-alders along the Columbia River. But the osprey turned around, and she sailed back downriver. For some time she crested back and forth like that, searching the water for fish. She dissipated high off somewhere, and I lost sight of her.

The next day I returned to the water. A wood duck floated quietly with the mallards. A belted kingfisher soared over the stream, his wings flicking in and out rather than up and down. I looked toward the sun and there was the osprey, scouring the wind for fish. She’ll likely return throughout the summer, and build her nest in the skeleton of a dead cottonwood; and I will sit by the water, among the ducks and the geese, and I’ll look for her to rise from the sun.

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