The Owl

by Carolin Messier

photo (88)

As I walked in the dark evening

under the waning crescent moon,

a shadow passed silently over me.

Having sensed more than seen

this flutter of darkness,

it felt protective and benevolent,

neither sinister nor threatening.

I paused and looked to see

what had cast its image

in the pool of street lamplight,

my vision seeing at first nothing

but still, black branches

and the quiet lane.

I realized then that I was not alone

and met the gaze of the night hunter

as he perched on the wire above,

calm and confident,

completely without blood-lust.


Hunting is his honorable occupation

into which he had been born.

There is neither sport

nor gratuitous violence in his kills.

Being the wise watchman of the nocturnal hours

the death he deals solidifies life;

it nourishes and feeds himself and his brood;

it continues the cycle

of what has always been.

While I paused on my way

I looked at him, and he at me.

Our eyes held each other

in mutual respect and deference,

neither wishing to disturb

the other in his nightly rounds.

I was honored to witness

this brief respite from his evening’s focus

and felt the rarity of it.


Never before had I seen this bird

of nursery rhymes and parables

outside of cages and pages.

I knew somehow that he had made it so;

had allowed me to see him,

to see him watching me.

At this knowing, tears filled my eyes

and I whispered a “thank you” to him

for having revealed to me his tender watching.

My emotions suddenly made me shy

and I took my eyes from his for but an instant

and glanced at nothing.

He took this unwatched moment

to silently set off

into the privacy of blackness

and I saw only one wave

of his noiseless wings

before he was once more a part of it.