An Owl

Twice through my bedroom window
I’ve seen the horned owl drop from the oaks to panic   
the rabbit in my neighbor’s backyard.
Last night he paced for an hour across the top   
of the cage, scrutinizing
the can of water, the mound of pellets,
turning his genius to the riddle
of the wire, while under him
the rabbit balled like a fat carnation in the wind.

Both of the terriers yapped from their porch   
but the owl never flinched, pacing,
clawing the wire, spreading wings like a gray cape,   
leaping, straining to lift the whole cage,
and the cage rocking
on its stilts, settling, and rocking again,
until he settled with it, paused,
and returned to a thought.

And the rabbit, ignorant of mercy,   
curled on itself in that white drift   
of feathers?

Wait, three years and I haven’t escaped the child   
I saw at Northside the night   
my daughter was born,

a little brown sack of twigs
curled under glass, eyes bulging,
trembling in the monitors,
and the nurses
rolling the newborns out to nurse,
and the shadows sweeping the nursery.

David Bottoms, “An Owl” from Vagrant Grace. Copyright © 1999 by David Bottoms. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
Source: Vagrant Grace: Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1999)