California Condor

A close up of a bird

A silent milling black cloud ravenously at a beached whale carcass, crops filling to the point of balking flight, a rare feast, an echo of what had been common tableaux when mammoths fattened on grass and fell to old age or saber-toothed cats or obsidian points.

A few decades back, in the canyon, conservationists found old shell fragments where “the General” had hatched now over a century ago, so named by ornithologists, who took him to the Willamette Valley then to an east coast zoo, where he died young.

Return. High in the canyon, quiet pools below the upper falls await the shadow of broad wings and again would host the image of soaring, however briefly. Return, and though homecoming entangles two species, their gifts remain distinct.

To each a number, a name, a tag, a tracker, an online profile, a genealogy, a list of offspring, biological and foster, a relationship status, and if so with whom, a bio, a hatch date and location, a death date eventually, a dataset augmenting in the cloud.

With a cobalt sky above, the San Gabriels below, and San Gorgonio to the east capped white, ride a thermal, turn, turn, sight the Mojave’s khaki and the Pacific’s blue, then plunge down toward some crows in the canyon circling a patch of green.

Poetry: © Robert Savino Oventile 2023
Photography: Kelly VanDellen / Adobe

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