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  Screech Owls

Like those electric fans

your grandmother in summer

propped on her kitchen counter,

or the hinges on the tool shed

door where you tore

your sleeve reaching for a rake:

the insistent, predictable

intervals of twenty seconds

come down from the hill.

From the thick firs along

the road, an answer, louder

and more urgent, building

to crescendo until

on silent wings you know

she’s floating

over the neighbor’s

gabled house, dark,

except for the blue tube flickering

through the window.

The stand of pines behind

their yard, you quick

flick on to amber, the two

with talons wrapped

on a branch and wings half-

cocked, shocked into paralysis,

they can’t decide to stay or go.

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—Jen Bryant (originally published in Smartish Pace, issue 12)
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