Owl Hope

For a poet to be rendered speechless, well, 

that takes something out of the ordinary.


Like the Barred Owl who has chosen to roost

on a tall pine in my yard.


I saw the droppings first and the tell-tale pellets

that told me she was—or had been—there.

Slowly looking up the tree among the branches,

I saw the long rounded tail feathers,

then her robust body, brown bars against grey-white.

And those eyes…huge and round and deep dark brown.


We walk quietly past the tree, my dog and I,

to head out on our walks each morning and afternoon.


Often she sleeps through our hushed departure

other times calmly watching our passing.


And in that quiet exchange, 

looking up at her as she looks down or continues her slumber,

that’s where words fail me.


Sometimes I wish her a good day’s sleep.

Always I stop and look up at her

with a love I cannot define.


She stirs something in me that feels a bit like hope

and a lot like wonder and deep affection

that moves through me from the backside of my heart.


At a time when I regularly mourn for all things Wild

this perching owl, undisturbed by our passing, delights me.


I carry a grief that nearly all of us share:

this horror at what we are doing to our natural world.

Knowing full well that as we unleash destruction

on Wild lands and all who reside there,

we unquestionably destroy our own inner Wildness.


Meanwhile, the world goes on.

We sleep, we wake, we live our lives.

Unable to make sense of it

even as we carry on.


And so, Wild friends, I wish for you

a roosting owl with big dark eyes.

Or the shifting song of the cardinal

as spring begins to whisper her approach.


Or any of the countless Wehs in which you connect

to Wild beings or plants or rocks or sunrises.

To wind or the scent of pine

to rain or the sound snow makes under your boot.

To the slanting light and long shadows

or tracks and antlers, sand and waves.


I wish you all this and more

as you hold to your Wild essence anyway.

Regardless of circumstance.


Those moments.  The connection, maybe even reciprocal.

That is what can fortify us and define us

as we stand with Wildness in all its forms.


Chris Heeter