St. Francis and the Eagle

by Burt Bradley

That first blessing, the pale hand,
the thin fingers wriggling in the wind
before the benediction, talons
like cloven hooves descend,
the beak sharp as a trident,
swift as a forked tongue,
the bite clean through the bone.

The little saint, before falling
in a faint, envisions the Stabat Mater
ascending to the hungry nest
with the holy sacrament.
Far below in the bloody air
a fingerless signing of the Cross.