Wednesday, December 09, 2015

An Owl's Voice

Walking in Los Gatos, we pass 
a rack of sports bras 
in the open air.
Really? I say to myself. 
Has the world changed so much?
And I know that it has. . .

Out Back

Once I heard an owl
through a tunnel from the moon,
imagined it huge
in its eyes, floating down
from the woods toward the lake.

All things moved down,
the life of trees clawed
at the hill, roots rolled
downhill in rivulets
beneath the lantern.
Behind my back, the cottage
slid toward the water
like an ice cube melting.

"See the eyes of the owl,"
my grandmother said, holding
the lantern to the trees
where something stirred, but
even the eyes had closed
into the awful dark.

My grandmother stood lean
and erect, her hair already loose
for the night and waved down
her back like the real woman
in the fairy tale. She said
my name, which was also her
name, said it out at the night
to make me appear, and hold.

Fleda Brown Jackson

Fishing with Blood; poems by Fleda Brown Jackson, Purdue University Press, 1988, page 26.

My grandmother's names were later applied to my two sisters, and I was named for my mother's friend as a compromise choice. It seems like it would be nice to carry a slightly unusual name, like Fleda, forward for your grandmother.

When we are in Michigan, we often hear the voice of the Barred Owl, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-hoo-hoo. . . "

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