Draw the gold shawl
         of leftover light around your shoulders.

Invite a deeper umber
         in among the trunks. You know who's

brought dusk close,
         who's wakened in that patch of spruce

too dim to see. Imagine
         hunched wings, swivel head, and round

dark-fathoming eyes.
         Imagine ears and blood fine-tuned

to underleaf stirrings.
         Listen: she's hymn for whom the mountain

rings its holy silence.
         Lying in your wooden bunk

sliding toward sleep,
         you hear a hollow calling by your window

summon you to follow,
         through wall-less tunnelings of vowel,

her low, aloof song,
         filling you with time and stars,

arousing alleluias
         in unroofed caverns of your old owl soul.



One summer I spent a month with a group of other artists collaborating, hiking and enjoying the scenery above 11,000 feet in a ski lodge above Red Mountain Pass in Colorado. Every night for several nights a large owl would swoop down among the trees near our cabin. We could make out her black shape silhouetted against the leftover light just as it was getting too dark to see on ground. And in the night her low resonant hooting would waken us. She is remembered in this poem, "Elder Sister," written many years later.