David Duer – Poem – 6

Days of Wonder: Aerie
by David Duer

On the ragged edge of town
We walked a trail past stone
Ruins of a pest house, through 
Winter-bitten wetlands still dormant.

A handmade sign said don’t miss
This extraordinary sight, and there
Beyond tall marsh grass and cattails 
Brown and sere, a half-mile distant

Stood the inaccessible tower
Of a single tall dead cottonwood,
And in the topmost fork of that tree
A bald eagle’s nest, an aerie,

A contraption of tree limbs
Twelve feet tall, six feet wide,
Returned to and buttressed
By the same pair year after year,

Both nest and diving platform 
To the waters below.
One mate nesting while the other
Hunts, these ineffable birds of prey, 

These twin messengers of the gods,
Fly into our minds and will not be still.
As human commerce grinds to a stop,
Nothing alters their slow steady cycle.

Calls & Whistles

At dusk the chatty chittering of the little wrens
Then the barred owls call across the neighborhood
One to the southeast, then the other from the northwest
Their four-note bars, twice, the second ending in a tremolo
How do you do? How do you do-oo?

On one of the more remote Canaries, west of 
Morocco, the locals still use silbo, a language of 
Whistles able to traverse the ravines bisecting the island.
When an old friend and Quaker farmer recently
Passed away, his obit took care to note that “he 
Will be remembered for his gift of whistling.”

We had a whistle for our children
Six notes, descending to a final pair, glissando.
In a crowd, in a large room, on busy streets
Our kids would instantly hear it
This signal we needed their attention
They still know, instantly, twenty years later.

Originally it was the whistle for my wife’s dog
Who traveled with her from the Santa Cruz Mountains
The dog who – if she hadn’t taken to me
My wife wouldn’t’ve given me a second thought.
Then it became for us a sort of love call 
Its subtleties loud and clear.


David Duer recently retired from teaching high school English language arts. He served for many years as the Washington High School Literary Press faculty advisor. A chapbook of his poetry, To Bread, has been published (o.p.) by Coffee House Press. His work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, English Journal, Little Village, and Poetry, among others.