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The Fall Impression

We wanted to see an owl.
My brother took me
out into the woods
behind our house,
the smell of pine needles
fresh in our noses
as we tramped through the
the dead leaves as loud as
car horns as I stumbled.
Finally, we reached the spot
where my brother had seen him,
the owl.
Twisted oak trees stood like
sentries, guarding their patch of
their boughs laden
with dry pine cones and
sticky sap.
My brother peered intently at the tree,
searching for the bird.
But he wasn’t there.
Disappointment crashed into me.
we heard a whoosh
as a huge shape swooped above us,
alighting on one of the enormous trees.
The owl!
He performed a shuffling dance
with his feet
and settled onto the branch.
He ruffled his feathers,
a mottled mix of
gray, brown, and white,
and folded his wings.
I nearly laughed—
he looked so funny
with his little white mustache
perched above the sharp beak
and yellow eyes roving
around the forest, finally
settling on us.
He looked down at us
as if to say,
“Oh, you humans. Watching me again.”
The term “wise owl” popped
into my head.
Now I understood
why people call them wise—
the owl was rather like an old man
full of secrets and knowledge
but unwilling to share.
My brother pulled me back
to reality,
handed me
his binoculars.
I stuck my eyes
to the rubber seals
and was rewarded
with a close-up view
of the beautiful bird,
his feathers now
in sharp detail.
I could even see
the wrinkles on his
fluffy, feathered feet.
My legs started
to go numb
from standing in one place
so long
but I didn’t care
because I was watching the owl.
It was almost like
we were in an ancient tomb,
yellow light spilling
through windows
cut into brick walls.

Then the owl shook
his feathers and flew silently
off the branch, into
the dusky afternoon sky.
He was gone.