The human season

by Heather Bowlan

Last night a choir of owls in the parking lot,
one on every branch of the oak tree,
the mottled colors of autumn turning
to winter around them, their own feathers
silk petals streaked brown to white,
bright beaks turned to mouths,
each owl-voice pitched to match
the height of its branch,
one word like water pouring
from their velvet throats:
Desahogar: un-drown, unburden,
loose the cold damp trapped in the heart
and feel it pound hot through its chambers.

Rain began, the invisible breath of the storm
coming home to the call, to the dark rings
of the owls’ eyes, a deep, wet brown
of slick autumn branches,
to the harmony of the lines fitted
along their necks and breasts.
The movement of sound, an aria of evergreens
and oaks and the wet pulp of leaves
below. And the owls sang together,
sewed the shift of seasons with that winter sear,
sang to the dark and thick and jagged in us
before we turn to our bare and silent selves.