WHERE ARE THE OWLS?

WHERE ARE THE OWLS?

 

Last winter, they surrounded me, circled

my head, sat on the bedposts, 

 

nested in the mailbox, ate all the onions 

in my garden. They sang through my sleep,

 

their sweet trillings and warblings

coloring my dreams.  I wore their cast-off 

 

feathers in my hair, lined my boots

with their fur. Where are they now?

 

Did the angel who keeps the flower bed

decide I’d had them long enough?

 

Oh, send me an owl! 

Just one would do—

 

one dark-eyed barred owl

to sit in the ash tree across the way,

 

just one owl in the ash tree.

Please make everything all right again.

 

Heat

 

HEAT

Heat eats time. Heat sits, placid 

monster, pale and bloated,

a vapid balloon across the land,

filling its maw with hours, 

ambitions, appetites,  joys.

It knocks birds from the sky,

cats from their windowsills.

Gardens sprout thermophilic

weeds and nobody cares.

No one can swim in the lake scum.

All the fans have broken.

 

Fighting is futile.

any knight who dares apprach

falls stuporous and weighted down.

 

Remember the cold?

Once upon a time 

it stretched its fine boned hands

over us, and what did we do then 

but whine?

Never again, we cry. 

O never again will we complain 

of its kind and gentle blue-frost smile.

MORNING NOISE

MORNING NOISE

~Jackson Pollock, 2019

Oil on cardboard

 

 

 

You can hear them, can’t you? Bursts of red and 

white and gray—those pickups early on the 

road, and the big silver milk truck, there, clear 

streak across. The woodchip truck that always 

uses jake brakes going down the hill—long 

black jag. And underneath and around—back-

ground and more than background—a kind of fore-

ground really—are the birds. Can you hear them? 

Sure you can. Rose-breasted grosbeak, redstart, 

red-eyed vireo, white-throated sparrow, 

goldfinch, red-bellied woodpecker, blue jay, 

and clearest, that woodthrush just out of sight.

WARBLERS

~Maud Lewis, c. 1970

Latex on plywood

 

 

Nobody taught her a thing.

Look: the anatomy all wrong,

perspective strange, almost

iconic. But look closely:

that northern parula 

in the lilac bush—iridescent 

blue-gray wings, shaded orange

throat, bright eye, open beak—

you can almost hear him singing.

And the yellow warblers, symmetrical

in the white-dotted trees

framing the red barn.

It’s Spring, they’re saying,

and we’ve arrived.

 

PLAIN BIRD

PLAIN BIRD

 

I woke like something hatching

from a plain egg—gray, speckled

with brown. Hatched like a plain

bird, a common bird. Some kind

of sparrow, spotted like last year’s

leaves and litter. I started the coffee,

leashed the dog, stepped out

into the rain where a robin—

an ordinary bird—was singing.

THE FEAST OF ST. WALPURGA

THE FEAST OF ST. WALPURGA

 

I have just returned

but before I sleep

I must record.

 

The moon was dark,

the sky was clouded.

Earthscent was rising

 

up from the valley

into the cold air

along the ridge.

 

We came in our silence,

lit the fire in silence. 

When they arrived,

 

we sang the words

to set them free.

While we waited then

 

for the flames to die,

while we waited

in our silence

 

with the long darkness

around us, a pair

of owls called 

 

from the forest

down in the trees.

A good omen

 

for the season to come.

The flight home

was uneventful.