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September 9, 2021

I Never meant to Find the Owl. {Poem}


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Warning: some naughty language nestled within.


It has been months since we found the dead owl, maybe a year. I took photographs too haunting to ever see.

Instead, I am stuck in the memory of its body—so mighty & strange;
my breathless rush of tears, feet slipping on the slant rocks,
the dogs pulling so hard—
no, no, no.

The feather edges were dry & soft, curled up like small boats, spinning in their brief eddy.

Anything steady, anything fleeting—
the revolution of each moment,
breaths of
tragedy & miracle.

“It’s unsurvivable” says the television.

And I listen just for a moment,
the hum/drum cycle of
murder & storm surges,
unable to tell which one the man
refers to this time.

I am alive on streets littered with letters,
some fumbled-alphabet-of-a-thing, some fucked-up-treasure,

some working-class-princess shit.

Meanwhile, I’m kicking vowels into the gutter,
clogging up the sea alongside
cigarette butts & all the other shit
I’ve thrown—or lost—or simply


When the fires come, my list is small:
Black Carhartt jacket,
signed 1st Edition of Joan Didion’s The White Album,
& a few small/old/framed pictures—

the one with my grandmother in the kitchen at our farm—
the one with my sister on the trampoline—
the one with the five of us in matching clothes & smiles.

Ash swirled & the sky closed in, but we never left.

We didn’t unpack either,
so struck by the motion and commotion to simply
stay put.

I woke in the morning and the ground was frozen.
At first glance out the window—
it’s all ash.

They always said fire or ice,
but not both.

In haste, ranchers scribbled phone numbers on horses with bright spray paint and told them to run!

The numbers dripped down their stomachs, fur catching globs of orange-painted 8s and 3s and 4s and 7s, mixed with ash & dirt & the hand print made from slapping him once more, in hopes of saving his sweet life.

The flames came so close to the car, the girl in the backseat yelled faster!

And we all prayed—

Between the layers of ice
there is trapped water, bubbling.

In the bubbles, you can hear
the all-of-a-sudden rush of owl wings,

and her vast quiet.

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