They watch me back, deep-eyed,
hauntingly gray with little, dark ear
tufts flattened against their heads—
three fuzzy-feathered columns
rising from the wind-battered nest
perched high in a corner of the ledge
under the courthouse eaves. Soon
they’ll be fluttering fledglings, fully
framed, hollow-boned silhouettes
waltzing clumsily on the edge,
blocking the luminous clock face
behind them as their mother, perched
quietly like a shadow in an old elm
nearby, beckons with a mouse, a rat
head, or other dead and tempting treat.

Before these owlets arrived, and those
babies born a year ago, and even the ones
two seasons past, I walked alone within
the courtyard square, and whisper-talked
to the Great-horned parents, as though
I were somehow blessed by the twilight
flights and landings in branches above,
as if the who-h-hoo-hoo-hoo, who-h-
hoo-hoo-hoo, who-h-hoo-hoo-hoo
that accompanied the owls’ return
to the nest near the end of winter
actually included me—who-h-
hoo-hoo-hoo, who are you?

Then I would feel unrecognized,
sense their indifference; I suspect
I’ve had so much time with the moon
that there are now too many owls
in the hollow of my soul. But although
this long and breezy breath of night
feels restlessly forever, I know
the birth of these new evening spirits
has turned the spring toward summer.


Twilight rings with starlings,
shrill, shimmering, fluttering,
flocking—a hand shadow
pointing toward the trees;
then it’s gone, the sharp shape
of hundreds of birds
blended into the darker
than green grove silhouette
as it greets approaching night,
another evening among others
moving the silence of stars.

Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb’s poetry has appeared in Sierra Nevada Review, Kudzu Review, Spectrum, Dark Matter: A Journal of Speculative Writing, Jelly Bucket, Wilderness House Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, Concho River Review, The Blueline Anthology (Syracuse University Press), Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments, Sleet, and other journals and online forums, with poetry forthcoming in the anthology 200 New Mexico Poems (University of New Mexico Press), the anthology Talking Back and Looking Forward: Poetry and Prose for Social Justice in Education (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group), Aji Magazine, and others. A past Pushcart Prize nominee, she holds an interdisciplinary MA from Prescott College and is co-founder of Native West Press, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit natural history press (which seeks to raise public awareness of some of our non-charismatic creatures with whom we share the American West).