Coming back from our desert climbing trip, just outside of Cisco, Utah, we ran into a camper van on the side of the road. As we approached, we noticed there were people standing outside. Taking a gander at what they could possibly be doing in the middle of the desert, outside of a creepy ghost town, we saw a bird off in the field.
Immediately demanding my climbing partner to pull over so I could take some pictures, I grabbed my camera and tried to approach in the stealthiest of manners. In front of me was a huge eagle, literally the size of my dog – if not bigger.
As I continued to approach the creature, it tried to flap it’s wings and flee my noisy feet and my lens. It was saddening to see that it could not fly and it’s right wing was bent in a manner no bird’s wing should be bent.
I decided to follow it once more further into the field. I stepped on thorns and had little prickles decorate the sides of my feet. What can I say, flip flops aren’t exactly adventure ready, but they are quite comfy.
Circling around to the front of the bird, I crouched down and studied it. There was fear in its eyes. As I captured it again and again with my lens, I wondered whether it knew it was going to die. I wondered if it felt alone. I wondered if it thought if it stayed super still as the wind rustled its feathers that I would just disappear and not bother it.
I felt a pang of deep sadness. Here I was, taking a picture of this bird in what must have been the utmost misery. For what purpose? Because I thought it was absolutely beautiful… devastatingly beautiful in what might possibly be the lowest moments of the bird’s life. But then, who was I to attribute the characteristic of fear to this predator? How am I to know that maybe this creature did not feel accepting of its fate to come and wanted to be left alone so that it could rest in peace?
Come to find out, the camper van had clipped the bird as they were driving down the road. They were waiting for animal control. In the middle of the desert.
I hiked back after watching the bird unsuccessfully attempt flight for the second time. Driving away, I glanced at the camper. As an older woman leaned against the grill smoking a cigarette in a dirty white t-shirt, a young girl was standing in the front seat. Her hand must have been resting on the arm of the chair and her long, brown hair billowed in the same manner as her baggy t-shirt. Leaning over, she peered out of the window. Her face. The eye contact.
That was the sepia toned photograph I wish I captured.
© /skin/ /ˈpōətrē/