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BARRED OWL RHAPSODY
Night Sounds, Tracey Maras
“The Owl, the Night’s Herald” ~Shakespeare

Seeing best at night, desire outraces the wind
perches your smell on branch and limb
stretches before me the way darkness presses
against the naked day—as my wings
once did upon you in twilight.

You prepared for death—I slept not—
trying to stop the moonlight
as it crossed the sky—attempting to hold it
and you a little longer.
But all living things merge into shadow.

The past plays in my brain now—
how your lips fit in my lips—
how your eyes fit in my eyes
how you showed me the way to soar    
between my good and lesser self
how you taught me to bend my head    
into the mantle of time.

Memory is a nest, best used for rest, then left in treetops.
Desire, a current to sail, an echo to answer,
a direction to point toward.
Love’s a perfectly pitched song, once heard never gone.

You prepared for death—I sleep not.
On my own—awake, listening through the foliage
I adjust my face, dig claws into wood.

Alone—but for the world, and this need
to grasp each moment’s sacred soliloquy—
smiling—as you would have it—

I cry and cut open life.


Anita Stienstra