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Villanelle with An Owl

by | Jan 10, 2023


Nora Hutton Shepard

Acknowledgement: Eclipse


A barred owl sits on a limb on the Davidson College campus.


What if in the morning the sun did not rise,

the moon was stuck against the sky

and the barn owl flew behind his yellow eyes

over the field mice in their darkened maze

of grasses, over the pigs bedded in their sty

forever sleeping in the dark, the sun did not rise

and the songbirds bundled in their trees

swallowed their notes and would not fly

while the owl pulled through the skies

his screened eyes, the double lids, raptor’s claws,

two eyes in flight, a perpetual spy

that could never rest if the sun didn’t rise?

The moon vine would pop its glory, the prize

of blossom only once. And here, no bees, no butterflies,

just the barn owl flying behind his beacon eyes

through the silhouetted trees, over fields denied

the greening light, the rodents that will die.

What if the sun could never rise,

the owl could never close his eyes?

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