Owl says she can take away your fear
if you name the right price.
That she’ll drink the sweat
from your goosebump skin
and siphon off the adrenalin
that makes your heart beat too fast.
That she’ll fly to the edge of the world,
regurgitate them in the form of a pellet
that’s heavy enough to sink through time
and be swallowed in a black hole.
You pause to consider the proposal.
Offer her one black feather
that will absorb darkness in her white breast;
the melodious song of the robin she devours.
She shrugs, turns her head to the left,
closes eyes the colour of night terror,
and in her dismissal your fear makes you
small enough for her to swallow.
You reconsider. Offer 20/20 daytime vision
so she won’t be blinded by the sun
and the knowledge you’ve gleaned
from a lifetime of academic learning.
She opens one lazy eye. You pause.
This time, with a trembling voice, you offer
the wisdom of the preordained future
and details of her unavoidable death.
She opens her other eye, turns her head,
and fixes you with a tunnel black stare
that freezes you with a fear great enough
to take away all you’ve previously known.
The Owl Guide from “Port of Souls” (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), my collaboration with cracking Dutch artist Marcel Herms