His beak could open a bottle,
And his eyes – when he lifts their soft lids –
Go on reading something
Just beyond your shoulder –
Or the Book of Revelation.
Never mind that he eats only
The black-smocked crickets,
And the dragonflies if they happen
To be out late over the ponds, and of course
The occasional festal mouse.
Never mind that he is only a memo
From the offices of fear –
It’s not size but surge that tells us
When we’re in touch with something real,
And when I hear him in the orchard
Down the little aliminum
Ladder of his scream –
When I see his wings open, like two black ferns,
A flurry of palpitations
As cold as sleet
Rackets across the marshlands
Of my heart
Like a wild spring day.
Somewhere in the universe,
In the gallery of important things,
The babyish owl, ruffled and rakish,
Sits on its pedestal.
Dear, dark dapple of plush!
A message, reads the label,
From that mysterious conglomerate:
Oblivion and Co.
The hooked head stares
From its house of dark, feathery lace.
It could be a valentine.