Just the barest whisper of the owl.
We were both on our sides, turning away, crying.
I do not know what you were remembering
or if you were awake or asleep;
I felt my body lift past your folded wings
and at last there was my great forgetting—
As I left that room, my heavy body forgotten
there was a rustling, a wishing, an owl
perched on my windowsill, the air fluttering its wings,
and it raised its head, arched back, crying
to a mate unseen, breaking into that other bird’s sleep,
calling us both, both almost wives, to remember—
What was left to remember?
That we loved and then forgot,
that once we held each other’s sleeping
breath and turned with eyes hooded as an owl’s,
its wise dished face, and we never knew crying,
not our own, or our children’s, winging
past all of our fears. We give our children our wings,
and we stay grounded. We no longer remember
the power of flight. We no longer cry.
What haven’t we forgotten?
What is left to us, what does an owl
know? Do they wake always, do they sleep?
You and I still lie apart, separated by sleep.
You try to wake me, the coverlet is a wing
folded around my shoulders. I left with the owl
hours ago. You’ll try to remember
me—eyes, voice, skin, find you have forgotten
them. The color of my eyes, my silk, my crying
voice still in your night. But you don’t know who cries
any more. You always heard just your own words, slept
even when we spoke together. I have not forgotten
your life story. You never heard mine. Winged
Victory. That I am the one who remembers.
Wise chronicler of your life. Little owl
sleeps now on my shoulder. Remember her.
No, you forget us all, you have no wings.
Don’t cry. Close your unblinking owl eyes.