She’s not there all the time.
Just enough to keep me looking up.
I round the corner at the back of the yard
where the tall pines grow,
approaching, always, with hushed anticipation.
Just in case.

Sometimes she’s there
roosting on the limb
that must be the right combination
of cover and room to land and take off.

Even the poet in me struggles to express
the feeling of seeing this magnificent owl.
Not hunting prey
or in flight on silent wings,
but resting, peacefully, on this branch.

It’s the moment when she sleepily
opens her eyes and looks down at me,
unafraid and mildly curious.

It’s the opposite of what you might expect:
not so much getting lost in her calm dark gaze,
but rather, getting found as I connect with the me
that she sees as she looks down from her perch.

I am delighted beyond measure that my presence
doesn’t interrupt her owl ways.
That she awakens enough to recognize
my dog and I are not a threat,
merely other beings, crossing her path down below.

It’s the exchange of glances.
My complete inability to refrain from greeting her verbally
inquiring about her hunt during the night
and wishing her a good day’s sleep.

It’s the welling up of love
and something else I can’t put into words.
The joy I feel when she closes her eyes again,
comfortable in our presence.

I know what some of you are thinking.
Attaching feelings, anthropomorphizing,
extrapolating all kinds of things
that might not be there.

But I will go to my grave believing
this owl and I have a fondness for each other.

Watching the long needles of a white pine blow in the wind
or hearing a cardinal early in spring;
holding a rock in my hands
or breathing in the scent of moist earth…
these things have the power to change me.

To bring me back from wherever it is that I go
when I don’t think to listen when I step outside,
or am too distracted to notice the sky.