Bared Claws

I hesitate to post this, because in reading it so many years later, it sounds to me even like there might have been violence, and there was never. I do not believe there is a place for that in a relationship that is meant to last. When there is violence in a marriage, someone needs to get help.

In our case, it was frustration, hurtful words, misunderstandings, missed opportunities, unrealized expectations – all the typical things that happen between two people who are newly together and learning how to make concessions, how to listen, how to always revert to kindness. That is what we came to, and how we live and love today, but it wasn’t always like that.

I thought of this poem again today after seeing a photo by Harry Eggens in National Geographic Magazine of two eagles clasped in the talon grip described in this poem. I would love to be able to use that photo here, but do not know if I will get permission. Instead, here is a photo from of the amazing talons themselves.



by Liesl Garner, August 2007


I have heard of the dance of Eagles mating.

I have seen the statue of talons out sharp;

a fierce battle and free fall – wings and bodies

tumbling over one another as they drop to earth.

Claws outstretched to tear and wrestle

and seconds before they crash with a fury and a splat,

they peel apart and soar upward again – circling

each other gracefully as they rise – intertwining

like ribbons, their movements fluid,

completely opposite from the downward fray.


When they reach the heights, they begin again.

Somehow, there is a tease, a ferocious front

and then a soft gliding against one another

in the upward motion. Perhaps they test each other

for fight worthiness – to see how the other will hold up

in a battle before they decide to rear young together.


You and I have bared our claws,

haven’t we, my dear?

We have frightened on another

with our fierceness and have

come back together timidly,

each offering a little tenderness

toward the other – maybe not

apologizing, but moving

more gently close again.


Right before we come all the way

to a landing that would break us,

we tear ourselves apart

and begin to rise.

We offer a smile and a soft word

and once again we are dancing.


We have proved we are fight worthy.

I believe an outside opponent

wouldn’t stand a chance, and I trust

you wholeheartedly to guard

my nest and our young;

to someday teach them how to fly,

how to laugh, how to fight and how to love.

Leave a Reply