Rite of Passage
(or How the Owl Got its Pointy Ears)
I was there when the house cat stood
and let her whiskers fall,
hollowed her bones with a blackwood
wind and tendered in her crawl.
She beaked her yowl, let her questions sing,
asking who belongs to who?
And answered herself the very same thing
as her wings came working through.
She spread the claws on her last two paws
and, taloned, perched the sill.
When she looked from me to the dark lined trees
I knew she’d had her fill
of lap and bowl and the ringing bell
that once had tamed her through.
She layed her wings on the falling dark
and, lithely homeless, flew.
I sleep with that window open now
and sing to where she’s gone
I swim the dark between the trees
beyond the feralled lawn.
She is no one’s lost possession
I do not wish her home
I sing to raise the downy barbs,
to empty out the bone.
Black locust breaks the hedgerow,
the floorboards are alight,
the axe is in a deadfall fire
which will not last the night.
There’s music in the inbetween
I can’t tell who from who
I’ll meet dawn at the ridgepole’s end
and see if wings are true.
by Peleg Held
Editor’s Note: The surreality of this poem is beautifully set within the constraints of the meter and rhyme.