with his wild monkey-face
calls through the black branches,
and the mice freeze
and he rabbits shiver
in the snowy fields-
and then there is the long, deep through of silence
when he stops singing, and steps
into the air.
I don't know
what death's ultimate
purpose is, but I think
this: whoever dreams of holding his
life in his fist
year after year into the hundreds of years
has never considered the owl
how he comes, exhausted,
through the snow,
through the icy trees...
turning this way and that way
through the mesh of every obstacle-
undeterred by anything
filling himself time and time again
with a red and digestible joy
sickled up from the lonely, white fields-
and how at daybreak,
as though everything had been done
that must be done, the fields
swell with a rosy light,
the owl fades
back into the branches,
the snow goes on falling
flake after perfect flake.
Tomorrow is my 10th wedding anniversary. I awoke this morning, in the lonely dark hours hearing the Barred Owl hoot, wistful and yes, saddened, that the ten years have gone by so quickly. Every one of those years, every week, day, moment, a precious gift that is gone. Perhaps not gone, but shifted for as I think back on the joy of that day, I can still taste the joy. Our wedding cake was topped with two owls, who were not just the theme of our wedding, but became the theme of our marriage, and our shared ministries. The gift of time pasts then is not gone, just given over to a better thing. Here is a poem that was included in our order of service on that day, ten years ago...
The owl has special wing feathers that quiet its flight,
So the prey never detects the predator.
One noiseless flap, two, and the small mammal is caught.
As out of the soul's dark night, love is suddenly there, upon us:
Talons and beak.
And turn our bodies over to the nourishment of a grander thing.