The seventh poem in the Moment Poetry collection is ‘Ode to a Young Screech Owl’ by Trish Hopkinson.
Ode to a Young Screech Owl
To you who left a mouse pellet in my backyard
Thank you. Thank you for your nightly visits,
your gentle calls. I’ve seen you perch in the ash tree,
certain in your footing, sturdy on an extended limb.
I name you Wholeness, for your whole life long,
for the acknowledgement of your call—a question
you pose each evening, your silhouette blurred,
camouflaged by branch and bark, the porch light glinting
off each iris when you crook your brow.
What does this world offer to a screech owl
—what but a mouse, its scraps
wrapped up tidily, left for me to find
in daylight’s prism, the skull carefully tucked in,
surrounded by small bones, shroud of hair. A casket
or, rather, a sacrifice offered, a field mouse
that gives you will to live another day
—not unlike my own nervous impulses scurrying
in bits of fodder, scavenging string and straw
to nest, building prospect, only to be snatched up
in your talons, swallowed whole. Soft annihilation
leaves bones unbroken, dissolves muscle,
fat, skin, and heart. I harden myself
to keep my insides soft, like the screech owl,
and cannot eat again until the remains are let go.