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Page 8

Joseph Langland
Nine Poems from " Haruspicating on Valley --View Farm
SACRIFICE OF THE GOLDEN OWL

We strung our Wyandotte rooster, dead, on a post
And wired him fast, head up, white wings outspread
Just under the woodchuck trap. Then went to bed.

All night those great jaws looking at the sky
Above the swollen eyeballs of our cock
Waited for morning. But nothing made them lock.

Whatever it was that fed upon our world
Delayed his visiting, or else mistook
Those puffed red wattles with too close a look.

We thought it was some talon out of heaven,
Some claw-hook of the sky, some steel-hooked beak
With which we hoped our woodchuck trap would speak.

At last it did. Diving at striking noon,
A golden owl spilled downward like a sun,
Split my blue sky, and with the trap was one.

I took him to the woodshed, sprang my knife,
And slit the shining golden breast apart,
Only to find a miserably small heart.

Then father cried, "Go, take the rooster down."
I burned him with the trash, then ran and stood
The owl's heart on my new-split kindling wood.

I made a little ritual of that fire
To warm my heart, but wept above that breath
Singeing the tough cold bitterness of death.

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