The Owl Counter
–for Jim Holyan
The owl counter walks the forest edge,
his silent boots slide from stump to stump.
He has a plot of land he hopes to count
and sits upon a stub at dusk to blend in.
He hoots and whistles like his prey and notes
the owl’s calls and jots them down.
He’s done this all his life, he looks the part.
His nose the beak, his eyebrows grand as tufts.
He’s stealthy walking when he hunts and sees
quite well at night. This counter seeks the peace
of stars and owl eyes that blink afar.
He tilts his head, looks high above to see
the blinking lights on hidden limbs and trunks
that give away the raptor’s resting perch.
The night is long, eyelids get heavy.
An eerie screech disturbs the silence, brings
the counter back from sleep. His dreams were simple,
all his life, his pulse was steady, shy but true.
He likes the work, avoids the crowds, and spends
his time in solitude, with parliaments
of birds that breathe in solo night like him.
Frank Babcock lives in Corvallis, Oregon and is a retired Albany middle school teacher and owner of a bamboo nursery. He writes poetry to share the strange thoughts that rattle around in his head and to get them off his mind. He started with an interest in the beatnik poets, Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg. He has a long way to go and much to write before he sleeps.