From Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy:

Her beak is red like she’s dipped it in blood. It turns her strong in my mind. I place her back in the nest and edge away, taking the cage with me. I want her to explode free, I want there to be fury in her wings and there is, she is glorious as she surges. Feet red to match her beak. A velvet cap of black. Twin blades of a tail and those wings, the sharpness of their edges, the elegance.

I watch her circle the air, trying to understand this new piece of her. The tracker doesn’t hinder her — it’s as small as my little fingernail and very lightweight — but she doesn’t like it. She swoops at me suddenly, giving a shrill cry. I grin, thrilled, and duck to protect my face but she doesn’t swoop again. She returns to her nest and settles over it as though there is still an egg that she must protect. For her, the last five minutes never happened.

I’ve been out here on my own for six days. My tent was blown into the sea last night, as wind and rain lashed it from around my body. I’ve been pecked on the skull and hands more than a dozen times by birds who have been named the most protective in the sky. But I have three banded Arctic terns to show for my efforts. And veins filled with salt.

What a tremendous book. It’s been a long time since a novel carried me along with such feeling. Highly recommended!

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