By Duane Niatum
A castaway blown south from the arctic tundra
sits on a stump in an abandoned farmer’s field.
Beyond the dunes cattails toss and bend as snappy
as the surf, rushing and crashing down the jetty.
His head a swivel of round glances,
his eyes a deeper yellow than the winter sun,
he wonders if the spot two hundred feet away
is a mouse on the crawl from mud hole
to deer-grass patch.
An hour of wind and sleet whips the air,
nothing darts or passes but the river underground.
A North Pole creature shows us how to last.
The wind ruffles his feathers from crown to claw
while he gazes into zeroes the salt-slick rain.
As a double-rainbow before us arcs
sky and owl, we leave him surrendering
to the echo of his white refrain.
Duane Niatum, “Snowy Owl Near Ocean Shores.” Copyright © by Duane Niatum. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Source: Drawings of the Song Animals (1996)
More Poems about Nature
A Wing and a Prayer
We thought the birds were singing louder. We were almost certain they
were. We spoke of this, when we spoke, if we spoke, on our zoom screens
or in the backyard with our podfolk. Dang, you hear those birds? Don’t
they sound loud?...
Here’s an Ocean Tale
My brother still bites his nails to the quick,
but lately he’s been allowing them to grow.
So much hurt is forgotten with the horizon
as backdrop. It comes down to simple math.
The beach belongs to none of us, regardless
of color, or money....