A single bird is awake in a tree
there’s a rasp of crows
a hoot from an owl ...
Two stone owls at the back of the house
look sad in this half-light.
Their feathers are chipped.
Remember that day? That country fair?
We came home with chutneys and jams
and a pair of owls, one each.
At first they stood by the step at the front.
You said they were guardians keeping us safe
from all intruders and thieves.
Now they are under the cherry tree
veiled in every tumbling blossom which drifts
at the end of spring.
Well I don’t care, they can stay there forever –
weathering, grubbier by the day –
since you’re not here
to wash the pigeon droppings off
or tease the grit from their grey-green plumes
with an old toothbrush.
they failed to keep intruders out
since you decided to let one in...
Was it in darkness when you did,
silently, like the wing-beats of an owl
and as stealthily?
Beautiful, the hooting owl:
sand and salt in a glow of beige, wings like canopies
of velvet, a long and pausing call –
but vicious, born to kill.
That’s its nature, I suppose, to ravage
and eat hearts.
‘Intruders and Thieves’ was highly commended in the TRYangle Project Poetry Competition 2012