OwlMy great grandmother was Lenape
married to a blue-eyed Irishman.
She loved him despite herself.
She woke up each morning, cooked baccon,
knew every chant, star and legend,
but she mostly kept them to herself.
He slept with a gun under his mattress, cried every Sunday,
and could dance and drink as well as a Native--
when he was happy.
Their dark haired children and grandchildren
wore turquoise jewelry, turned brown in the summer,
never suffered from poison ivy.
She blessed them on her deathbed with
her guardian, the Owl.
He appeared in their dreams, forgotten
by morning. Deer and Bear danced
in their memories, but they thought nothing.
Visions of warriors appeared
during their Rosary, they dismissed them.
There was a Cherokee
in our family, or Algonquin once
a ways back... Something
about Leni or tears...
When I was a boy, just eleven years
old. The her last Owl found us. He soared
under the full moon, past the old quarry,
around the mountain by St. Therese's steeple. He
flew over the Blue Route and into the suburbs
hidden in trees, past the court house,
down town, the lawyers' mansions,
and onto our street.
He perched on the eaves
of our front porch-- weary, faded,
The sun's first light rose from the floor,
slid over our front door, up his talons,
his feathered chest, haggard beak, and tired
eyes. He died in a blink.
We found him there after school looking
like a stuffed thing from a museum. My brother took
great grandmother's sacred Owl to school
for a science experiment, because
of course we had long forgotten
where we came from. And no one
could remember what a sacred guardian