No one says it 
anymore, my darling, 
not to the green leaves 
in March, not to the stars 
backing up each night, certainly 
not in the nest
of rapture, who 
in the beginning was 
an owl, rustling 
just after silence, whose 
very presence drew 
a mob of birds--flickers, 
finches, chickadees, five cardinals 
to a tree--the way a word 
excites its meanings. Who 
cooks for you, it calls, Who looks
for you? Sheaf of feathers, chief 
of bone, the owl stands 
upon the branch, but does he 
understand it, think my revel, 
my banquet, my tumult, 
delight? The Irish have a word 
for what can't be 
replaced: mavourneen, my 
darling, second cousin once 
removed of memory, what is not 
forgotten, as truth was 
defined by the Greeks. 
It's the names
on the stones in the cemetery 
that ring out like rungs
on a ladder or the past 
tense of bells: Nathaniel Joy, 
Elizabeth Joy, Amos 
Joy and Wilder Joy, 
and it all comes down 
to the conclusion 
of the cardinal: pretty, pretty, pretty 
pretty--but pretty what? 
In her strip search 
of scripture, St. Teresa 
was seized, my darling, rapt 
amid the chatter
and flutter of well-coiffed 
words, the owl 
in the shagbark hickory, 
and all the attending dangers 
like physicians 
of the heard.

From Voice-Over by Angie Estes. Reprinted by permission of Oberlin College Press, Field Poetry Series, v. 12. Copyright © 2002 by Angie Estes. All rights reserved.