In winter, we find her invisible
against the furrows
of cottonwood bark. Her swivel
and lean follow us until
we sit on the old polished log
we call creature. She blinks,
swells her feathers out, shakes and settles.

It’s a good day when I see an owl.
We watch until she drops—a fall
opening to swoop and glide. What is it
with lesbians and owls? Someone
asked. I’ll leave the question
there. There’s a world

the old trees make of water
and air. I like to feel the day
undress its cool oblivion, currents
moving the one mind of leaves,
shadows deeper with the breath
of owls. Just the chance she might
be there watching makes me
love—no—makes me loved.


Copyright © 2022 by Anne Haven McDonnell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 21, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I’m interested in the idea of reciprocity. When we love and pay deep attention to some being or phenomenon in the living world, we simultaneously receive a kind of love in return. There’s an owl that some beloveds and I visit regularly in a bosque by a river in New Mexico. Some cultures see an encounter with an owl as a curse or sign of danger. I’ve always felt blessed and full of wonder whenever I encounter an owl.”
Anne Haven McDonnell