Pome — Emma Neale

Owl-glass

 

The first time, the eye spies a spy-glass:
owl-glass
a till now unheard word:

thick spectacles, monocle, binoculars
to track nocturnal birds?
Or a barometer that measures owl-weather?
Dusky, silt-blue, cool,
without night the feel of night,
the time Minerva’s owl is said to fly …

Yet no, godwit crossed with cuckoo
owl-glass flies from Germany,
Eulenspiegel,
it darts, it does turns, it twits you:
jester, trickster,
smiles and beams an image of the reader back
who stares, dumb-struck, wide-eyed, foolishly.

And yet the mind insists:
it is a word through which it still will bird-watch.
Barn. Barred. Great Horned. Great Grey.
Eastern Screech. Eagle Eyes. Snowy. Morepork.

Startled on thought’s highbeam headlamp,
the heads swivel; large facial discs
channel sound into exceptional ears
(try to owl-prowl in the dark, in a nylon jacket:
how you’ll wish for feather silencers
as your breath crackles static.)

Now the birds lift tented wings
their silhouettes beat higher on a slope of air,
thrum invisible drum skin;
the heart’s suddenly audible palpitations.
Did you hear it, catch it?
Here. Try this. Owl-glass.

 

Emma Neale

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