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  • Jane Schnelker

Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard ~Mary Oliver




His beak could open a bottle, and his eyes -- when he lifts their soft lids go on reading something just beyond your shoulder -- Blake, maybe, or the Book of Revelation. Never mind that he eats only the black-smocked crickets, and dragonflies if they happen to be out late over the ponds,

and of course the occasional festal mouse. Never mind that he is only a memo from the offices of fear -- it's not size but surge that tells us when we're in touch with something real, and when I hear him in the orchard fluttering down the little aluminum ladder of his scream -- when I see his wings open, like two black ferns, a flurry of palpitations as cold as sleet rackets across the marshlands of my heart, like a wild spring day.

Somewhere in the universe, in the gallery of important things, the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish, sits on its pedestal. Dear, dark dapple of plush! A message, reads the label, from that mysterious conglomerate: Oblivion and Co. The hooked head stares from its blouse of dark, feathery lace. It could be a valentine.

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