Maya C Popa

Took off from the field again
        away from you and back in my direction.

We share an owl now – we did not mean 
        for this to happen. It hovers

between us, a symbol and debt, sleeps 
        in a country neither recognizes

until we’re face to face – then, it’s familiar, 
        and it’s impossible not to laugh.

Of course, there’s an owl. You’re the owl 
        in the belfry set off by noon bells.

I’m the owl circling the wounded land. 
        Among the difficulties of caring

for something metaphorical
        is the guarantee it will one day

become something else, and it’s hard to say
        for certain when the transformation’s final.

How you woke one morning at a job
        you hated, in a mind you’d wrestled

into gentleness, and nothing made sense 
        except the way I listened.

You burned for me; the owl was a candle 
        by whose flame I could see

my own value clearly: the second chance,
        the double life tiptoed watchfully around.

The feeling only a wild bird knows 
        whose head turns 270 degrees,

is silent in flight and blends
        with its settings, whose talons can

withstand any sort of landing. That, 
        a neckless wonder, strips

ligament from flesh. Something so polite 
        about enduring its violence

and hoping only to remain in favor, 
        watch the bones assemble

in the shape of a vole. There are ways 
        to fail an owl, for metaphor

to fail. I remember you – the dusk 
        we wrought by listening.

The long hunt we made of night.

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Summer 2020

Issue 96

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