Stone Telling

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Owl Woman

by Mary Alexandra Agner

Step forward. Put bare feet to bridge.
My lantern eyes are the last two
lights for miles. Drink while you can.
In my claw: the entrails of your hate,
the lightning you lashed out
when your lover left you,
secrets unlocked and open to your tongue.
In my human hand: willow-the-wisp
happiness, whole afternoons of selflessness.

Oh, woman, dragged down by daughters,
now too late---your back turned---
to see them raise your bier
and weep for what beauty you have given them,
bring bone to wood and walk
over my abyss. Step forward.
Focus on where your fear can take you.
This is the last choice you will ever make.
Will you wear my wings or scamper westward?

Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. She is the author of The Doors of the Body (Mayapple Press 2009) and The Scientific Method (Parallel Press 2011). She's currently at work on a historical fiction novel-in-verse about the woman who defeated Cyrus the Great of Persia as well as a lyric manuscript consisting of one poem per Shakespearean play. All her life she’s observed the universe and written about it.

Photography: Barn Owl, by Jon Lucas.