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Stalking the Endangered
Roseate Terns of Faulkner’s Island

As if the island stones
had sprouted wings and fins
Roseate terns and relatives
grace the skies above us
bearing alewives and smelts
to mates and chicks.

Creating a thriving land home
our priest, Father Spendelow
believing in the sacredness
of endangered creatures
shields Roseate terns
amidst shrilling calls
of waywards’ warnings.

We grieved the Roseates’ passing;
annihilated for fashionable
hats; and battered
by avian marauders
such aristocrats congregating
now hold their ranks.

Yet, father ensures their survival
making an oasis
providing nest boxes;
keeping watch over their domain
inviting terns to linger awhile
from epig journeys to mate
and transcend refuge places.

Roseates and relatives rise above
wheel, swoop, and whirl over us
filling the air with clamoring
"Zreep, Zreep Zreep Zreep!"
soaring on currents
working their aerial gyrations.

Terns glean our thoughts even
as they target our heads
mocking our limitations.

Like celestial forces
Roseate terns assemble
to stream scattering to the seven seas
searching for the vanished flock.

Reaching out to the unknown
as aurora borealis
invisible forces mingle.

- Carol Leavitt Altieri

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