Issue 9

Autumn 2013


The Flammulated Owl

Some say the world is made of circles.
Others say lines. Consider:

the winter lawn with its broken leaves
and the mower stored in the shed,

the line I trace from the moon to Venus,
true as the line from birth to death,

or my raised arms forming a circle
able to contain the whole sun.

I asked the squirrel scooting on a wire.
He stared with round eyes.

I asked a salmon returned from the sea
but the salmon was red and dying.

Ice melted off roofs. 
Blue opened

and the mountain came out to play.
From this end of the valley,

I rubbed my metaphorical cheek
against new snow. 

Remember your grandmother powdered and soft? 
The distant slopes felt like that

but with sharp rocks at the top. 
My nana dwelt on the davenport and ruled the world.

I was the obedient grandchild of terror. I believe
in magic.

A nocturnal owl about seven inches tall.
Deep hoot from the top of a pine tree.

Facial disc flamed with chestnut or rust.
Moon’s disk pricked by needles.

Bare nest without feathers or twigs.
This quilt I invent out of dark.

How I glide toward night over soft duff,
an owl weighing just two ounces,

feeding past dusk on crickets and moths,
moth dust stuck to my beak.

Come owl dawn, I’ll burrow into this pine,
my human tongue already on fire.


Penelope Schott