Three Poems by Mary Beth Hines






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? 


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


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.

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