Owl in Retrograde

By Paula Bohince

In truth she must move more
like a rodent: claws scuffling the puny branch
without pity, and feathers
fetid as newspapers closed around the decaying field
mouse in the garbage.

She’s not been cleansed
of malice by her open face, even when the kill
is clean: prey swept from its running
like a plane pulled up at lift-off,
punctured on both sides, flown swiftly
through the phantom dark.

My poor puppet, embodied

Giver of a few luscious moments
in a lifetime: a husband hearing the ghostly blowing
first, shushing his wife. Both of us
listening hard,

the soft column of silence
between us meaning, You’ve made me a home. Where self-
loathing used to reside, it has been
, the roof of us enameled and moon-
struck as a compass.

Though the owl is homeless, forever,
isn’t she also moonstruck? And glad, I hope,
to return, flaring like a match
in all this sadness.

Paula Bohince is the author of a poetry collection, Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods (Sarabande Books, 2008), and the recipient of a 2009 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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