I happen upon a horned owl,
three feet from me, in a tree branch.
The sense of recognition comes, an unexpected thud in my heart.
“Hi, brother!,” but more:
that only a hundred years past, maybe less,
this animal presence was familiar as my breath, my blood, my sight.
Florida in the cypress.
Mallards float by, an alligator, a kite, and you should know!
You have been immersed in this.
You’ve been overwhelmed.
A thousand pink flamingos on a grassy plain, running, rippling roses,
feathers with the inner seashell’s luminous glow.
We have been healed by this!
You roamed the land.
Fifty pheasants rose from the brush in a heartbeat.
You surprised a huge buck deer
and he stared you down before turning tail.
An easy bargain, all this gone, all this family gone.
The bargains are everywhere around us.
One chain saw to split the air with its shattering hum,
fifty Florida panthers gone.
Step in your car. Put your foot on the gas.
Another black bear rolls over, ready to compost. No heirs.
Send another fax and soon...
With every step, the human heart strangles in silence,
in emptiness, in lifelong loneliness.
No contract was written or signed.
We’ve only just agreed to this spurious bargain:
one buzzing box for you to plug into,
a thousand of the animal kin, gone, gone, gone.
March 20, 1996
|Great Horned Owl|