Near the stone cellar hole

motionless still balance in the air, then parting, talons loosing
                                      ——Walt Whitman, 1881

The mountain lion must have been staring
at the feral orchard
when I startled two young eagles. They arose,
left behind an old hemlock wolf-tree
and clearly feathered their own shadows;

and when clouds tightened snare lines
around their wings,
they turned, and should have noticed the lion leap
from a crumble of foundations stones.
Both spun for a better view.

They must have seen a young lion
overturn the rusted barrel hoop;
either could have followed claws
carefully skimming the thin ice
formed over aging applejack—

they might have seen the mountain lion turn
and lick the mottled Roxbury Russets
strewn under yellow leaves
and soaking the oak staves now turned into dark top soil.