The Owl

In the evening we walk the dog. One night last week while approaching the house at around dusk, Bonnie stops in the street- she hears a noise. The usually tight leash droops as she looks up both curious and startled. Melissa and I stopped too. “What is that sound?” A hissing whistle, loudly shouting from the tree tops. At first I thought a raccoon or squirrel, but suddenly it moved, gliding to another tree. It was too dark to see. A bird?

The next few nights I walked out the front door onto our col-de-sac peering up into the trees hoping the noise would return. Like clockwork, around 9:00 pm every night, it did. It came from the neighbor’s big oak tree. I heard it again, from another tree, and then another. There were several.

It took a few nights of investigating but finally, last night while walking the dog again, we found ourselves directly below the noise. The thick oblong body and monkey-faced bird looking down on us was a beautiful Barn Owl. It hissed. I pulled out the iPhone and got some video of the noise, and while on record, another huge owl flew right by my head! They are all over our trees and inspired me to do a little research. The Barn Owl never hoots, it screeches. It’s a silent and mysterious night-time killer. It inspired a poem.

Here it is.

“The Owl” – By Will Palmer

A summer’s day gives way to dusk
The chorus of birds follows a timely decrescendo
Oak trees silhouette against a dark blue sky
While most sleep, someone opens up it’s eyes.

It’s not the stars
It’s not the moon
It’s not the mice
It’s not the coon

It’s the owl.

His black iris, pointed ears
Sharp talons, and heart-shaped face
Barely visible to the naked eye
It if weren’t for his screech, piercing the silent skies

It’s not the cricket
It’s not the child whining
It’s not the car
It’s not the siren

It’s the owl.

His ridge of feathers, startling glare
From atop the branch, his silent stare
Mask-like face watch the world below
Even the firefly’s dainty glow

It’s the owl.

The day his enemy, in the night he thrives
Long-winged terror of silent flight
Another screech to terrorize the night
Where last they see, the heart-shaped white

It’s the owl.

When the sun first breaks through his darkened trees
The mysterious bird flies quietly away
To vanish into the revealing light
Until dusk begins another plight.


3 thoughts on “The Owl

  1. I loved this! Reading it gave me a reprieve from the day’s tasks. The rhythm of the poem drew me along to the conclusion and illustrations. I miss my owls from the old neighborhood. I will come listen to yours!

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