I had imagined rapid-fire laying
after a heavy gravidity:
one after one after one after one
and a concentrated brooding.
Not one left in its newness, uneasy
whilst the falcon grew round inside,
flew quick flights around the nest-scrape
to ease the next’s passage. One.
After one. After one. Not till the fourth
did the lens fill with the female
covering all dedicatedly, chasing the male away
at food handoff time, tucking her head
this way and that, closing one eye
and sleep-watching. Shifting in high winds
that sang merry hell, spinning her about.
She faced them down, whilst underneath
eggs warmed, rocked, finally cracked open
loosing mouths equally fed, despite
size and age disparity. Feathers grew,
displaced down; soon they fledged.
One. After one. After one.
The last one sickened and failed.
Statistics say three out of four
beats the odds, but my thoughts
hover, play merry hell: a sudden decline,
a shuffling out of lens-reach.
Dying off-camera. Achieving in its last act
near-human privacy. The others flying on.
Note: In the absence of nesting peregrines, http://www.worcester.gov.uk/peregrine/ provided a live link to some city kestrels a few years ago.
-Jennifer A McGowan (first published in Obsessed with Pipework)