The Owl Invites Your Silence
Richard Parisio 2015, 36 pages, Series Editors: Margo Taft Stever, Peggy Ellsberg, and Jennifer Franklin. Winner of the 2014 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition. “W.H. Auden wrote, ‘to pray is to pay close attention.’
Parisio’s wise and moving words emerge from his training as a naturalist, teacher, journalist, and conservationist. This is a book of poems written by a poet who pays keen attention to the natural world that is quickly being destroyed. It is an important book for our time.
Richard Parisio has worked as an interpretive naturalist for 40 years and is a nature columnist for the local paper in New Paltz, NY. His work can be found in three regional anthologies, as well as The Kerf, Spillway, and Common Ground Review, among other journals.
Who knew you would turn up
in a tin mouse trap. Your tap-
tap dancing on its metal floor
gave you away. Not the peanut
butter never nibbled, just the tunnel’s
open door enticed you.
Perplexed, the two of us,
jailor and sudden prisoner,
you in your grey velvet suit, stub
tail, pointed snout, miniscule
claws, your eyes like tiny
obsidian beads stuck on–
You don’t need vision in your lightless
leaf-lined passageways. You go
by feel, seize centipedes,
snatch fat grubs, pierce
soft worms with red-tipped
needle teeth. Ravenous.
At my doorway, I release you,
confident you won’t return. But go
for me. Go where the forest
hides its secret lives and deaths
in soft nests in the leaf mold.
Sun-blind like the stars,
we are flooded with daylight.
After the great flood, animals,
first one kind, then another,
were sent for a particle
of earth to make the world again.
Today it’s you we chose–
go down, go down, for all of us,
headfirst into the dark.