Barred Owl Wind ruffles her mask, white down fringed in black, her dark eyes steeled to the task. Hooked beak wide she drills the air with a caterwaul of wails, howls, and trills. She sails off to stalk red crossbills for her owlets curled in their hemlock. Finches flock around a bird feeder—skittish, plump. She runs some to ground. Her sharp yellow bill snaps opens with a crack then scissors for the kill. Back at the nest she shreds the still-warm prey for her hissing brood of three, then pivots barbed eyes, pricks her ears for predators before she lifts, flies. Barely visible, across the purpling sky, then invisible completely, she glides alongside her grizzled mate. She whistles, hoots, chides— Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all, who cooks for you, who cooks for you? Shark what my granddaughter with her small girl’s newfound power to conjure fear calls whitecaps, calls each flash of a boogey-boarder’s elbow what she shrieks, look-out girl, from atop my crow’s nest shoulders what she growls, fists up, to frighten, straightens legs, hollers, and leaps toward Matriarch in waiting, i breathe her scent, cool mix of June and mint lean in, touch her shoulder, young only to her older bloom in her happy birthday balloons—stars, honeysuckle, beachgrass, fire
Mary Beth Hines is an award-winning poet who also writes short fiction and non-fiction from her home in Massachusetts. Her debut poetry collection, Winter at a Summer House, was recently published by Kelsay Books. Her work appears widely in literary journals both nationally and abroad. Connect with her at her website. (Photo Credit: David Mullen)
Image “Around the Lighthouse 7” from Jose Moutinho under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.