With Their Wings by Jean Nordhaus
On the evening you were born,
after the tremendous churning
that brought you forth, an owl
flew onto the rail of the balcony
where we sat, as darkness bled
from backlit hills into the sky.
In twilight, she perched on the ledge
measured us with wide, light-
gleaning eyes, then sailed off
on soft wings. Shades of my mother,
I thought, half-believing—the wide-
set eyes and level gaze.
For those who say the dead
have no more truck with us
are wrong. The dead are all around us
feathering the air with their wings.
They see in the fertile darkness
that surrounds this sac of light.
And in these hours we call them back
to steady us, who live in time.
“With Their Wings” by Jean Nordhaus from Memos from the Broken World. © Mayapple Press, 2016.