Never mind that he is only a memo
from the offices of fear
—Mary Oliver, “Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard”
Where you walk, I only look through windows.
Not because I fear the woods, or the wind
that ever brushes clean the window sill
and sends the dry leaves roiling in the clouds,
but because there are the words to read
before they too roil away, and the time
to put on coat and hat seems like a treason.
And so your owl with unfurled fernlike wings
becomes in mind a strange transcendent angel—
oh, not a jovial, chubby, red-faced cherub,
but as you said, oblivion’s memorandum.
Rilke knew: every angel is terrifying.
The darkened cottage opens to us all,
and all of us in time approach its door.
Yesterday you stepped across the threshold.
I peer through the window in my coat and hat.