Barred Owl                                                                                                        —Samuel Green

                —Valentine's Day, 2016

Had it not been for the sound of something
rustling, I might not have looked up
into rain & seen it there, just folding
its wings back into place after shaking
off the wet, its head turned round
staring at me, face a bit heart-
shaped, looking nearly as tired & soaked
as I felt myself. I stood there, wringing
dirty water from my slick leather work
gloves, thinking how love comes in & out
of focus like that, a sudden shudder
of sound, a movement of the landscape
that doesn’t seem to belong, & there
it is: those eyes that miss nothing, refusing
to be startled, seeing everything clearly.

Barn Cat

The one I remember most
lived in the hay loft or tie-up
of my grandparents’ cow
barn, though we could never tell
where for sure. Mostly we saw a blur
the color of floor straw. When he let us
see him, there was always a safe
distance between, & two or three
routes of escape. His left ear was a flap
of skin, a forefoot was missing
toes, but he moved like sunlight
through a board crack. He got fed twice
a day: a few squirts from the dawn
& nighttime milking. It kept him
hungry enough to hunt the mice & rats,
my grandmother said. She’d leave a bowl
of warm water when the cow troughs
froze. She was the only one who could
get near. He’d arch his raggedy-ass back
& rub against those barn boots covered with slick
green manure & purr. Only for her, only for her. 

Samuel Green copy.jpg

Samuel Green is the author of eleven collections of poems, including Vertebrae: Poems 1972–1994 (Eastern Washington University Press), The Grace of Necessity (Carnegie Mellon University Press), which won the 2008 Washington State Book Award for Poetry, and All That Might Be Done, also from Carnegie Mellon. He has lived for over 35 years off the grid on remote Waldron Island off the Washington coast in a log house he built himself after living in a tent for three years. He is, with his wife, Sally, Co-Editor of the award-winning Brooding Heron Press. In December, 2007, Green was named the Inaugural Poet Laureate for the State of Washington.

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