The Owl

Updated on October 8, 2017
snakeslane profile image

Verlie Burroughs is a west coast writer from Vancouver Island.

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“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

— Henry David Thoreau

Dear Reader,

What does it mean to inspire? To be inspired?

It seems to me the creative process is equal parts perspiration and inspiration.

I asked a poet friend about her Muse. How does one find one's Muse? What is it exactly?

She said "It's just who you are".

I guess that narrows it down a bit.

I am a naturalist, I find inspiration in nature.

I am also extremely sensitive, as if I have no filters, so whatever touches me, touches me deeply. Sometimes this makes good poetry, other times not so much.

It is easy to become over-loaded with too much information and to lose focus. For me poetry is all about focus, about clarity, and about truthfulness.



"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

— Henry David Thoreau

The Owl

I find the owl on the lawn

along the shady edge of the drive

where the crows lay down

after a bath

with their wings outstretched

and their breasts flattened

to the ground

to absorb the coolness.

Looking like a fleet of small black

aeroplanes landed there in unison.


I find the owl laying in a tiny heap on the grass,

unruffled, face up, eyes open,

so life-like.

No heartbeat when I pick it up.

I carry him back to the garden where I am working,

and place his tiny corpse deep in the shade

under an old gnarled Rhododendron shrub.


That was two summers ago.

This summer, so hot! While stretching out a soaker hose under the old Rhodo

I found the owl's bones, clean, white, and undisturbed.

I collected these remains (I don't know why)

They weighed almost nothing,

but I could feel some kind of energy

from them when I held them in my hand.


The Owl notes August 16 2014


The Owl finding,

The Crows shade bathing,

the bird bath,

an oasis,

a refuge.


Listening to

CBC Radio,

Saturday morning,

stories about miracles,

about healing.


Today is cooler

(cloudy)

than it's been

in the past

couple of months.

Last night was

clear,

moon and stars,

a chill in the air,

more darkness,

fall approaching.


Worrying

over

every little thing.

Weary,

worn,

resigned.


A deep fear

of losing face.


aged

raged

caged

ragged

bagged

gagged

inconsolable.


So,

a writer friend

passes me the

baton,

to inspire me

to inspire you...

I catch it

it is light.


It is light

like the

wing bone

of a small

bird,

perfectly balanced

for flight.


What to do

with this

lightness?

This gift?


I hold it

for a

moment.


I feel the lightness

and the balance.

I feel the flight.


There is a sense

of impossible

tranquility,

my spirit

lifted

suddenly,

as this

lightness

carries me.




© 2014 Verlie Burroughs

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    • snakeslane profile image
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      Verlie Burroughs 2 weeks ago from Canada

      Aw, Rochelle, thank you, I just got this poem moved to LetterPile, exciting. Yes, the little owl is not identified in Marie Hale's photo, so I will take your word this is a pygmy owl, looks very much like the one I found,

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 2 weeks ago from California Gold Country

      Yes, very beautiful and evocative poetry. I enjoyed its mystic quality.

      I have a children's book about a Saw-Whet owl which looks similar to the photo on your hub, but I think the photo is actually a Pygmy owl.

    • snakeslane profile image
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      Verlie Burroughs 6 weeks ago from Canada

      Ann, thank you. I am happy that you read the Owl poem and enjoyed. Appreciate you taking time to comment.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 6 weeks ago from SW England

      This is absolutely beautiful. Nature inspires me too and I love to just stop, look and listen to the breeze in the trees or whatever catches me at the time. Your little owl brought a tear; you have a gift of writing deep poetry.

      Ann

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 8 weeks ago from Canada

      Thanks Peg. Good to see you, I really need inspiration these days. I've dropped the baton, but hopefully will pick it up again!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 8 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      You are definitely inspired by nature and it suits you well. I enjoyed reading this one again with a new perspective after a couple of years. Funny how poetry carries through the ages as we change and grow and its meaning and depth evolves. I loved the singer and his guitar playing, too. That owl photo is wonderful.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Shyron, thank you for coming back, and leaving such a heart warming comment. I'm looking forward to reading more of your Hubs. Yes, the computer is back on track, but I feel like I lost a lot of ground. Frustrating...Blessings right back at ya!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Wow, snakeslane, I came read this and found it sounding familiar. As I read it, I realized I have read it before.

      And I found it more awesome than before, and now I am inspired to write some more.

      I am glad your computer is better.

      Mine took a nose dive a couple of months ago.

      Blessings! Voted UP and UABI and sharing.

      Shyron

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Thank you Vincent (if I may). It is a mystery to me where the poetry comes from, or why we bother with it at all. Like dreams we see and then forget, and once in awhile the ideas surface again, or we dwell on something that happens and realize there is a story there. It's all so fleeting, but I know that reading is one of the most important things in my life, essential, like breathing and eating and sleeping, so I respect the craft.

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 3 years ago

      Inspiration is found in simply being alive, our Muses will find us and when they do, the words will be given us, whether we are surveying life or death, the beauty of it all unfolds from our pen. The stark contrast of the raven and the owl is their flight, the nocturnal view of the owl, the cautious and nevermore raven will peck and caw, likely they could have cleaned the owl of it's life and left it alabaster ready for your collection? Death is simply a moving to another plateau, I would like to think that owl was given a very respected and wise place on the other side of its life here. Well done poet, I felt each word.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Shyron, thank you! The song (just looked it up) was written by Charles Albert Tindley, Methodist minister in 1905, I love the way Seth Avett sings it too.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Wow! Snakeslane, you do not know how this touched me and why. I don't see many owls, but I do hear them sometimes at night. I feel like I called them to come near my home in flight.

      I love your poems., I also love stand by me.

      Blessing to you

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      And absolutely brilliant, she is so.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I don't know how I'd cope with months of computer crashing...anyway glad you are back. Nellieanna is a dear lady.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Ah yes, the old ego boost, works wonders...Of course you come highly recommended (Nellieanna), but I'm just getting back to Hub Pages after months (literally) of computer crashing, not fun...

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Yes still grinning...a real ego boost, which needed it.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Thank you Jodah, how very nice to get your note. Congratulations on the Poet award, wow, you must be grinning from ear to ear.... :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi snakeslane. I read your story in the Creative Writing Study then saw a comment from you on one of billybuc's hubs. Just thought I'd check your writing and came across this wonderful poem about an owl.

      Your poetry is very unique and I enjoyed reading this. I look forward to checking out more of your hubs. Voted up.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      I'm not good with gifts, unfortunately, but certainly I do feel blessed.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      The owl's bones perhaps carry their energy as a gift to you. I have been thinking about this same issue lately--your Owl notes certainly hint at that --

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Thank you DMsLizzy, your comment and vote is much appreciated!

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Aww, there you are Nellieanna, thank you for stopping by, I am beyond ecstatic to see you, and know you felt some comfort. And of course I am flattered by your singing my praises! Gosh, gee, wow...But worried about you and family, so hard to accept your dear granddaughter is gone, I am so sorry, for you and her family. Thanks Nellieanna for comments, and kind words, love, Verlie

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Loved the touching scene and poem about the poor little owl.

      Thanks for sharing that.

      Voted up, awesome and beautiful.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 3 years ago from TEXAS

      Oh, how I've missed you, snakes. You are so - you! Your truth is like a shining beacon. You don't have to plan it. It just IS. Your friend's definition of what is a muse is IT.

      One of your thoughts caught my heart and mind: ". . .There is a sense

      of impossible

      tranquility, . . "

      This is totally inspiring in every way. That song, too. Thank you for directing me here as comfort for my loss of my Carla, - granddaughter. Big hugs and love.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Hello MsDora! Your lovely comment is so much appreciated. Thank you!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Your lines are definitely inspired. They give us thoughts in which we can find deep reflection. Who knew that could happen by recording the death and memory of an owl? Go Muse!

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Thank you mckbbks, a summer cold is the worst, brought on by running between air conditioned rooms (my regular day job) and the afternoon heat in the gardens (my after work job). Just took a mega dose of Vitamin C, which should help (I hope).

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Hello Ms Cole, Your owl story is exciting, I love the happy ending. Thank you for the generous comments. I am so fortunate to be gardening in a really magical location. Inspiration just flows there. This poem feels like a sketch to me. I can envision a whole suite of poems coming out of this experience which is ongoing, year after year, and indeed, many of them have already been written. The crows are endlessly entertaining. They are cheeky birds with a flair for imitating whatever is going on around them. I was surprised to see them all lined up on the ground like that. And yes, Avett Brothers Rock!

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Hey Mar, So good to see You, the reigning Queen of Inspiration herself, thank you for your good works and always positive feedback.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Faith, Thank you so much!

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Hi Jackie from the Beautiful South, thank you again for support and encouragement!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      so sorry you ended up with a cold. the price of producing beauty i guess...get well soon

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      It's beautiful the way you capture such vivid scenes in your lovely poems. I could envision the fleet of aeroplanes formed by the crows sunning after their bath. The little owl's remains brought tears and tenderness and memories of an owl who, long ago, flew into the grill of my car. We scooped him up, put him in an open box and waited. It took him only a day to regain his bearings, then, off he flew from our balcony ledge with one backward glance. My heart soared with his flight.

      I'd never heard of this singer and truly enjoyed listening to the song. Nicely done on this challenge, Snakeslane.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Oh snakeslane,

      Waking up to your gifts of poetry, sensitive expression and the soulful sounds of Seth Avett is a truly beautiful way to start my day.

      Mr. Friedman knew precisely who to pass the baton of INSPIRATION to... you have done a stellar job, my lovely friend.

      Always a pleasure when you grace us with your unique voice.

      Voted UP and UABI and sharing. Love, Maria

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Really beautiful words of inspiration here. You are a gifted poet! It was a pleasure reading this tonight.

      Up ++++ and away

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Up and across. Your sensitivity does guide your wording and make the thought of something dead or dying take a higher meaning.

    • snakeslane profile image
      Author

      Verlie Burroughs 3 years ago from Canada

      Dear Mike, You are too kind. Thank you so much for your generous invitation. I actually found some time today for this because I woke up with a horrible cold and had to take the day off work (tomorrow off too). Interesting timing.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello snakeslane, I see that I could not have made a better choice for inspiration. This is so graceful and beautiful. I marvel at your adroit pen and ken eyes. Bravo, young lady.