Poetry November 1992

Owl Pellet

More

audioear picture Hear Erica Funkhouser read this poem (in RealAudio).

I was crossing the field—that is all—
longing for nothing more than a color,
when I found the owl's pellet
coiled in the grass.
Beneath the glistening veil of mucus,
a mass of conflicting ingredients:
squirrel fur, rabbit hip,
feather of flicker and jay.
Farther in, I came upon crow quills
splintered and wrapped into balls,
tidy parcels of polished bone,
a frog's spotted fingers.

It would almost be better to be young again,
the multiple longings
obscuring any need for detail,
but the ripening pellet
demands exploration:
pelt and stuffing enough to knit nothing,
remnant of mole-tail, extruded ear,
the skull not yet skilled
at dodging or distance,
a pulsating grub embedded in beak.

It is never too late for rhapsody.
A kiss says nothing compared to this.
Joined hands? Sweat on the belly?
Lips, genitals—all of them edible.
Where inside does the owl assemble
these bundles of bone and fur?
How wide must she open her throat
to disgorge them?

Anyone can capture the fur standing on end
as small claws slip away from the glassy earth.
Anyone can feed on the instant of pleasure
that makes an animal sweet and defenseless.
No one but the owl makes use of every scrap,
licking beauty back into the coarse remains
before delivering them here so openly
at the feet of anyone crossing.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In