The Saw-Whet

From his new book Butterfly Beautifly Beautiful, a poem by Inglewood poet Paul Leet Aird about a remarkable encounter with a migrating owl.

November 29, 2021 | | Arts

Illustration used with permission by the estate of Thoreau MacDonald.

Illustration used with permission by the estate of Thoreau MacDonald.

yellow and black eyes that hunt at low light
were blind to large nets raised on a dark night
thirty black nets set in the dim light
to trap and band owls in migrating flight

silently an owl flew into the net
silently the owl was caught in the net
silently the owl watched me rush forward
silently I knew he would remember

gently I folded his wings into place
closely he watched me remove the black thread
first from his left wing, then from his broad head
then from his right wing, then from his right foot

silently the owl opened his talons
silently they closed into my finger
silently my blood oozed by his talons
silently he knew I would remember

left hand, third finger, first part, three claw marks
now branded for life for the owl to see
now branded for life for all owls to see
they can read the mark and know it was me

silently he watched me measure his wing
silently he watched me measure his beak
silently he watched me measure his weight
silently I knew he would remember

I put a marked band above his right foot
entered the number into the blue book
now banded for life for others to see
they can read the mark and know it was he

silently the owl was raised for release
silently the owl flew off to freedom
silently the owl and I were parted
silently we knew we would remember

About the Author More by Paul Leet Aird

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