Cacaway Island sits in the shadow of Rock Hall’s spume
where an osprey makes a cheeping sound
that implores you to understand
a small bird of prey can’t bellow or scream its blood-lust,
but coyly perched on buoys and watchtowers,
guarding farms, ditches and canals,
seems a deranged songbird, its chirp or cry disguised
as the speech of Malvolio, (not flightless though.)
I screw my bifocals on but lose the focus
and almost my footing
on the cockpit’s bright coaming,
the bird’s plaintive voice calling out
from a purpled well in the mantled trees.
Gone below I retrieve a long lens to catch him
and back on deck at last can see
a small grayish head and yellow raptor’s beak
spying on me in the early dark descending
over Langford Creek. My first osprey of the season.
But success is temporary.
A sudden splash in the darkness
and the S-shaped neck of a counterfeit appears:
a black cormorant rising, a fish on its spear.
One quick flash of its undersides
before it too slips away, silent as a swan on the Bay.
Michael Salcman is a physician and teacher of art history. Recent poems appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hopkins Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, Ontario Review, and New York Quarterly. Michael is the author of two collections: The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises), nominated for The Poet’s Prize, and The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises, 2011). His anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors and diseases is forthcoming. He was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore.