La Lechuza


 

Not the volume so much

as the anger in her screeches

that causes all the lights in the car

to blink and go out. Even a short squawk

will blister your ears. Her pain will fester

inside your head, unhealed,

until you find yourself one day

polishing the skull of a squirrel 

you found in your front yard, setting it

gently in a safe place

to horde like a family jewel. From the moment

you hear her cry, only dead things

will hold beauty for you. At some point

during every conversation you have

with a neighbor, or mailman, or lover,

their flesh will melt away. You will

want to follow their bones home.

This cannot be helped

any more than the owl’s cry can be unheard.

Tie seven knots in twine

to wear around your neck if you’d like.

It might buy you some time to hold

the living close. It might even turn

their blood red again on your hands.

"Three" - Ellen Langford 

Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collections are Elliptic (Yellow Flag Press, 2016), Revenant (Blue Horse Press, 2016), and No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, fall 2018). He has recently been appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to serve as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019. 

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