Barred Owl

by Fleda Brown

It was a large barred owl, as much tree
as owl, a few feet from the window.
She watched all morning. Sometimes he dozed,
other times swiveled his police-light head,
calling: Who cooks for you? Who cooks
for you?  He must not have been hungry,
since he ignored even a fat dove that slept
on the ground.  Crows kept cawing and then
one perched on a branch right above
to keep an eye.  A satin lining day,
small bare rustling moves. Two crows screamed
in his face, a foot away. He drew into his
ribbed tree-jacket, invisible to all but
the crows and her.  They wouldn’t stop.
She would get nothing else done.
He flew away, but within minutes he was back
minus crows. His flight had carved a comma.
He sat there again, eyes semi-closed,
retracting his flurry. Yawned and gagged up
a large owl pellet. She thought she would
dissect it later for a message, the one his eyes
refused her, but hinted to the cats. He flew
away in the late afternoon when her husband
went out to feed the deer. They’d debated
about the feeding, but “their” 12 deer waited
like statues. Her husband was still able to walk,
then, his speech uncertain. It was the day
of the barred owl.  Words couldn’t hide it
from them, anyway, the emptiness of its perch.

FLEDA BROWN’s eighth collection of poems is No Need of Sympathy, from BOA Editions, LTD (2013). She is professor emerita at the University of Delaware, past poet laureate of Delaware, and is on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program in Tacoma, Washington.