The Wise Old Owl is a familiar character in numerous children's stories but there is another, less benign, owl persona that occurs again and again in fireside tales the world over.
It's this latter type of creature that appears in my first poetry collection (The Man Who Landed (2010)) where it is presented as a bird of ill-omen, a harbinger of approaching death.
In a green lane in St Peter’s
near midnight, under a full moon,
a pale owl
flies across my path, silently,
over dark fields to the tree-line, hunting.
to watch his tireless sweep
over dumb ground, mist spreading like a shroud,
till I lose sight of him,
and coldness, creeping,
turns my leaden footsteps home.
In bed, near daybreak,
I jerk awake, heart pounding,
mindful of accelerating time, moments eaten up,
of golden, soundless wings,
a questing eye;
sharp talons reaching for my heart.