Eastern Screech Owl – A Poem by Charles Weld

John James Audubon – Plate 97 Little Screech Owl

Poetry by Charles Weld

Three or four inches apart and nose to nose,
the screech owl squints out in comatose half-doze
as Thoreau peers into the red oak’s hole in one of those
unexpected meetings. Confused at first, he knows
it’s not a partridge, but can’t see the owl because it’s too close.
When he understands, he strokes it with a finger, and its repose,
he reports, gets deeper. Slits that are eyes completely close.
I suppose this could be the same owl he later spies as he rows
up the Assabet in October. Tying his boat, he tiptoes
up from behind, scooping it from a leaning hemlock that grows
out over the water. This owl, wrapped in a handkerchief, goes
home in his pocket to be caged for the night. Mobbing crows
expose screech owls’ daylight perches—one of Thoreau’s
reliable alerts. Ours is an after-midnight whinny of tremolos.
We lie in bed, eager for what the neighbors’ woods disclose.

About the Poet

Charles Weld’s poems have appeared in many literary magazines (Southern Poetry Review, The Evansville Review, Worcester Review, Ellipsis, Coe Review, Descant,Confluence, Snakeskin etc.). Pudding House published a chapbook of his work, Country I Would Settle In, in 2004. Kattywompus Press published another chapbook Who Cooks For You? in 2012. His poems were included in FootHills Publishing’s anthology Birdsong in 2017. A mental health counselor, working in an agency treating youth, he lives in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

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