Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January 6: Wishing to See an Owl

Driving home from an evening meeting tonight, it occurred to me that the old farm fields along Simonton Road would be an ideal place to see an owl. I see turkeys there sometimes. And those fields are probably full of rodents tunneling around under the snow and grass. Some big old oaks stand on the open hills like sentinels, perfect strategic perches for a bird of prey. So why not an owl? 

I wished and wished for an owl to swoop across the road within range of my headlights. Of course, the cool thing about wild animals is that they don't do what you want. They live on their own schedule. Unless of course you're Aquaman, able to summon the creatures of the sea through mental telepathy. (Which I tried to do once as a kid. I spent a whole day on my grandparents' beach staring at the waves trying to summon a dolphin, concluded that I definitely do not have super powers.)

Not seeing an owl despite thinking really hard about seeing one made me realize that really it's all a matter of perception. Which got me thinking about the last stanza of Wallace Stevens' amazing and mind-twisting poem "The Snow Man" (1921):

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
and, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

So here's a poem of what might have been:

To see what you seek--
nexus of want and desire
manifests as owl. 

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