Strix Aluco by Diane Cook

Strix Aluco*

No wonder they call you wise.

You have solved the swoop-grab ratio
of vole-shadow to deepening wingspan
as easy as Pi r2, and digested
the full philosophy of mouse
before the dark had a chance.
And now at 3am you screech your eureka moment to the world.

And the world is just you, and me.

From your urban revenant of forest
you tear a hole in my dream.
The one where I’m on the precipice of bird-flight
waking the dust off my feathers
in time for that wafer of air
to take me by surprise,
with your wings sprung like flick-knives,
your man-trap talons. This close,
I am no more than an idea of animal sinew
flexed behind the membrane of your eye.

Friday night by the wheelie bins.
I watch you stare wiper-eyed
above the acid glow of street life,
neck swivelling 270 degrees,
way a match for R2-D2.
Well, numbers are your game.
And tricks. Potion-maker, breaker of bones.
No wonder they called you Strix,
the Romans. They knew
a single lunule egg would check alcoholism,
long before the dawn-rakers
in circumferential sway around the ivy
mixed their random pukings
with your pellets’ perfect revisions.

But the irrational was God
when he put your ears on askew,
crowning you an unholy bird.
You’ve turned that round:
calculating where two angles cross
soft scamperings in leaf mould
down to the third claw, left paw.

Strix Aluco by Diane Cook won first prize in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh. *Strix Aluco – Latin for Tawny Owl

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