112. Between the Fall Grasses

and the fox’s cry—

like a woman screaming—

I hear the owl walk sideways on the branch

of the mugo pine

I cut down two summers past,

taken by bark beetles

and burnt that winter. Things are changing.

I can hear them in the smoke steps

of an owl who flew

into the tree, not seeing

me in the screen porch, almost

asleep in the gloaming,

in the movement of beetles

I almost hear in the pine.

The the fox,

one field west, its cry

frightening enough for me to cross

the road first time I heard it,

sure some neighbor or poor traveler

was meeting red death

in green summer’s grass. Now,

Then, I watched the owl,

who too had heard it all before,

shift himself, then

let loose his own great hoot,

as underneath him, beetles

took a better hold, and time

had its ways with us.

— William Sheldon

William Sheldon lives with his family in Hutchinson, Kansas where he teaches and writes. His poetry and prose have appeared widely in small press publications, including Columbia, Epoch, Flint Hills Review, Prairie Schooner, and Midwest Quarterly. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Retrieving Old Bones (Woodley) and the chapbook Into Distant Grass (Oil Hill Press).

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