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Barn Owls
by Cynthia Linkas

Barn owls mate for life,
find each other through hearing;
their noses and eyes, nearly useless.
White-faced, round-eyed,
and innately smart,
they solve problems, tell time,
never forget the mate's beating heart.

This morning we fold into each others' warmth
the same for forty years, so like the owls.

A chewing mouse can draw the male from a black sky
where he's been hovering on golden wings.
All night, he hunts mice for his mate and young,
his long talons frantic, quivering.
Nothing else will do in nature's scheme.
Without mice, barn owls die.
And when one mate dies, the other spins his head
around over his back, stops hunting. Dies of sorrow.

I think of our own needs like theirs, so embedded, so precise
that when unmet, we die small deaths.
And of how imprinted we are when we love,
with forever, unassailable marks
inside this warm, known fit of our bodies.


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