One who wasn’t

These are the quiet things that arrive with autumn:
sharp indigo mornings
the barred owl
and the one who almost was
          but wasn’t ever (not really)

Neighbourhood crows congregate like a premonition
          they are forever the first to know
when their cawing sketches the chestnut tree in echolocation
I understand the owl is back before I see him
he weathers the wind and rain
          the corvid abuse
with a ghost’s ephemeral nobility
I’ve heard that owls are known to raid crow’s nests
          nocturnal cradle robbers on silent wings
so all the racket is some kind of warning
          a stay away         a righteous hysteria

The one who wasn’t (not really) follows the owl
          or precedes the owl
          or arrives simultaneously hidden in his tail feathers

I’ve heard that an owl’s call portends death
pretends death is even possible for one
that was only ever a brief potential:
          (a sesame seed nested in blood
          grown to a wild plum
          pulled apart by its own weight)
our due date was October over five years ago
it was our best before         it was for the best

I like to pretend I saw it coming
but our owl has always been so quiet
grief is a quiet thing, I guess

I don’t really believe in omens

Next time I’ll stockpile firewood
I’ll remember to curl my body against the cold
          like a question mark
I’ll curl around my belly         like a parenthesis
next time I’ll knit mittens and dress in layers
I’ll tend the light I planted in the windowsills last spring
I’ll remember to be gentle        next time I’ll be prepared
at least I won’t be surprised


Marie Metaphor Specht is an educator, visual artist, poet, and spoken word coach living and working in gratitude on the unceded and traditional territories of the Lekwungen and SENĆOŦEN speaking peoples (Victoria, BC). Marie’s poetry leads with compassion. She believes in the power of vulnerability in its ability to breed empathy and understanding among diverse individuals and communities. Her poetry has been published in a number of anthologies and journals in print and online. She has performed her work at a wide variety of venues ranging from literary festivals to interdisciplinary arts events to local poetry slams.