from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Lost Species poem 18: Jennie Osborne

In a week when the voices of the five owls one finds in GB have each been the subject of BBC Radio 4's 'Tweet of the Day' at 5.50-something-too-early in the mornings, it seems apposite to post Jennie Osborne's Barn Owl poem.

Barn owls are an endangered species in GB now (though conservation efforts are paying off): partly because of loss of habitat, and therefore prey, and loss of nesting sites, and partly because of the pesticides sprayed and poison put down to kill their prey, voles, mice, rats.

I've the frequent privilege of watching one of the local pair quartering the scrubby (organically-farmed/agroforestry) field opposite us on summery evenings, or perched on a fence post, rising elegantly and featherlight as I approach.

First to Blink

And on the rain-slick road in front of me
white-staring     staring me down
daring me down    not moving
luminous in the moment   in the car headlight
forty-mile-an-hour moment
flower-face    feather-face
saucer-starer    Blodeuwedd
taking me in
taking my lethal metal jacket in
and not moving     facing me down
claw gripping carcase
pinning me down

    till I blink   brake   swerve
    into the risk of oncoming

lifts upward like a leaf
letting go of gravity
curd of mist
of white ash
dissolving to night     to drizzle
blurring to peripheral

talons ungrasped
letting me run
leaving me smeared
furred and bloody
on the road

© Jennie Osborne

This poem comes from Jennie Osborne's Colouring Outside the Lines, Oversteps Books, 2015. It also won the 2015 Kent and Sussex Poetry Competition.

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