Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Great horned owl

under a blood red sky
a crisp, grey profile
perched at the top of his tree
he calls out the coming night

cold and wary
gloved hands pocketed
for extra warmth
breaths swirling white
I tread lightly
down the icy path

just underneath,
standing motionless
I look up into
the shadowed cup
of his gaze

suddenly he calls again
startling, forceful
ears pricked
right at me

after a
respectful pause
I answer his question,

a few times
we parley
until I turn, shivering
wondering what we said
and leave him
to the deepening cold

he swivels then,
raises his shoulders
wings wide
silently slips into a slice
of iced blackness


Blogger Patry Francis said...

So much I love about this poem. For me, it opens almost like a mystery story. And a mystery story it is--from the unknown message that you and the owl communicated to one another (which may reveal itself to you later or which may just effect you silently) to his disappearance into a slice of blackness.


12/13/2005 10:12 AM  
Blogger Sue hardy-Dawson said...

I too have been enjoying your poems, I love the moment when you made contact with the owl and then wonder what you said to each other and the rich immagery makes me almost breathless, thank-you for visiting and please please call by again.

12/13/2005 10:45 AM  
Blogger EATING POETRY said...

I love the descriptiveness, the words you use... I can feel the blackness he disappears into.

12/13/2005 12:04 PM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

Such a lovely poem, Moose. You capture that feeling when you know you are communicating with the wild ones. That shared moment with something wild is as thrilling as it gets. I also really like when the owl slips into a slice of iced blackness. That's just beautiful.

12/13/2005 5:20 PM  
Blogger rdl said...

wow,I really like this one and my we are prolific these days. keep up the good work.

12/13/2005 6:46 PM  
Blogger DTclarinet said...

Yes, the last line is perfect. I also like "the shadowed cup of his gaze"

very efficient poem. inspiring in that sense. I have something to work on!

12/13/2005 8:04 PM  
Blogger Frankie said...

Absolutely beautiful. I love love love "silently slips into a slice of iced blackness." Wonderful!

12/14/2005 5:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the "shadowed cup of his gaze" as well...It feels safe in the midst of this cold scene.

12/14/2005 7:01 AM  
Blogger mermaid said...

Ahhh, remnants of Mary Oliver, though you have a voice that is distinctly Moose.

12/14/2005 5:26 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Thanks, everybody, for your wonderful comments!

Patry, it certainly felt like a mystery as it was happening. And it happened just like that. A lot of intensity paired with a lot of unknowns. Thanks for your comment.

Sue, I certainly was breathless, and it wasn't just the cold or the brisk walk. It felt like a real privilege, one that I didn't want to abuse.

EP, thanks. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly darkness falls in winter, and what cold it brings. When the sun is dips down (poof! like a candle blown out!) the temperature just plummets.

rexroth's daughter, I'm guessing you can appreciate this moment in its fullness. It is an absolute thrill and honor to make contact with a wild creature like that.

rdl, my commitment is to write *almost* every day. Sometimes that's easier than others. This week, it has flowed (so far!). But I know from experience that I work in spurts, so I don't expect I'll keep this up indefinitely. I take it as it comes, with gratitude! I'm glad you liked this one.

Garnet, thanks. It's interesting you picked up on the cup phrase. Owls, as you know doubt know, have a cup-shaped face, but I also had this sense that I was "drinking in" this owl as I made contact. I don't know how to describe it exactly, reaching into the depths of something, something full and alive and overflowing. So cup was a literal description, but also more. I appreciate your comment on efficiency, also. This poem was a small struggle to write, phrases popping up in the wrong places and having to be sorted out where they really belonged. Sometimes it flows out in order and sometimes it doesn't. But the overall effect I hoped for was of a spare kind of intensity, so I'm glad to hear you comment on that.

Frankie, thank you for your generous comment. I'm pleased that you responded so positively to this!

TLReynolds, in my real-time experience, it both felt safe and not-safe. The owl is a fierce predator, and since I wasn't entirely what the owl meant, I didn't feel entirely safe. But there was also that sense I had of reaching into the cup, of making a good kind of contact, and that part did feel safe.

12/14/2005 5:40 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Mermaid, I'm honored indeed by the comparison. I greatly admire Mary Oliver's poetry. Thank you.

12/14/2005 5:41 PM  
Blogger DTclarinet said...

moose- I can relate to the sorting problem. My mother once told me about performing, "even though you struggle, you must make it look effortless". I guess it works for poetry as well.

The shadowed cup beautifully implies all that you wish of it.

12/14/2005 8:04 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Garnet, your mother said that? She knew something about performing then. Yes, it's what we end up with (or hold up for view) that's important. The sweat is what's necessary to getting there. And, truth be told, it's part of the fun, like solving a puzzle, or training a muscle to respond in a certain way. I'm trying to remember a quote that I think was attributed to Michelangelo - has to do with the sculpting process involving carving away everything that is NOT the figure he sees in the rock (I may have butchered that) - anyway, sometimes writing feels that way. Get rid of the nonessential elements, finding the essential flow.

12/14/2005 8:32 PM  
Blogger aa said...

There's something about this that left me...wanting. For what? I do not know.

For now, I want to link here. I hope you don't mind.

12/14/2005 10:34 PM  
Blogger Brenda Clews said...

The motion (of the words and owl) and the mystery (of poetry and the depths of this powerful bird who represents so much)of this poem, I love...

12/15/2005 8:04 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Free spirit, the experience left me with a feeling of longing, too. For what I'm not sure, either—some of it had to do with the nature of the contact I made, some to do with not knowing what we said, some to do with having to move on and leave that moment. So I think you are touching on a core thread of the poem.

Brenda, thank you for mentioning the motion of the words. I hadn't thought of it that way. You see what I learn from those who read! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

12/15/2005 10:37 AM  
Blogger leslee said...

Lovely poem. So nice to finally take a break and come here and find these poems - this one taking me out into the real world, the one where owls speak, the clear cold space of nature in winter.

12/15/2005 3:35 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Leslee, it sounds like you could use a break, and there's nothing like nature, even in the bitter cold of winter, to revitalize the spirit. I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

12/16/2005 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful prose- I have a deep affinity for owls, my Grandfather used to be known for his ability to call them in.. they 'talked' often. :)

2/02/2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Cindy, I'm glad you enjoyed the poem! My grandfather had an affinity for owls, too. There's something very compelling about their presence.

2/02/2006 1:36 PM  
Blogger Pam in Tucson said...

Breathtaking! What a moving and beautiful poem. I felt as if I was standing with you and could see my breath in the cold darkness. I'm glad I found your site through "I and the Bird #16." I'll be visiting regularly.

2/02/2006 7:30 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Pam, welcome! It was a moving and beautiful moment to experience such an interaction with a wild creature. The poem virtually wrote itself. I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

2/03/2006 8:27 AM  

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