Morning On This Island

The lights across the water are the waking city.

The water shimmers with imaginary fish.

Not far from here lie the bones of conifers

washed from the sea and piled by wind.

Some mornings I walk upon them,

bone to bone, as far as the lighthouse.

A strange beetle has eaten most of the trees. 

It may have come here on the ships playing

music in the harbor, or it was always here, a winged

jewel, but in the past was kept still by the cold

of a winter that no longer comes.

There is an owl living in the firs behind us, but he is white,

meant to be mistaken for snow burdening a bough. 

They say he is the only owl remaining. I hear him at night

listening for the last of the mice and asking who of no other owl.

From In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché, published by Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Forché.