The Tale of Owl

by Miranda Gaw

1. The Storm

Owl is lost in the wood. Wind rustles
        the dark trees
                    First few drops of rain.

He hops a little faster along the path.

The ground    wears a soft pelt
                of leaf litter that
      shifts underfoot. It sounds
like a blind audience stirring.
         It murmurs
and again
the name of the enchantress
         Circe   Circe          Circe

& the storm rears up like a hundred
swans flapping their wings.

2. Introduced To Her
Honey & salt & the shrill of violins --

                Owl tries to nestle
                into the darkness;

but the darkness feathers its nest inside of him.

3. Under an Enchantment
Out of turquoise    owl is carved
                      & circled by
     a strand of wooden
                                beads strung
       with green leaves      oh, la,
glittering like candied                      petals
On a leather thong     he is hung
                to swivel not
                                       his ears
          nor blink his eyes

4. The Mission
Over the salt marshes
                                             wings the owl,
                              urgent messenger.

A curl of paper
              tied to his left leg with string

The sun is blinding and strikes sparks
           off the flats
            with a ringing
                                  noise like iron
His pupils narrow painfully
                           shuttering themselves
      like the aperture of a camera

                  & he can almost
  almost remember

The letters are chittering
            out of the scroll
                                 they swarm
                    around his leg              they itch

The owl plummets
             to the shore of the great salt lake

     twisted and broken
                            his feathers
           blood & bones

spell out her message

5. It Burns
Other eyes look through his eyes.

Jostling to the front
like spirits at a seance.


             There was once
an owl who was lost in a wood
              & I am not ---

             A sentence written in fire
             A sentence served

Gasping                an iron bed
wrenching   a pebble

shatters          a window
       & cold air floods in
The first drops of rain
                               stain the thin cotton
              hospital gown.

                  I am Owl
he rasps. His throat a rusty blade.

Miranda Gaw is trying to figure out if she should dress up a metaphor with an almond blossom. She has poems forthcoming in Kaleidoscope and Sybil's Garage and daylights as a computer programmer in Brooklyn, NY. Her favourite fruits are Rainier cherries.

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