What the Owls Say

by Helen Moore

On ‘The Colours of Cluny, A Northern Light Extravaganza’

Hill-top woods in Autumn, when welcome darkness
comes long & early – owl-light drawing Ivy curtains
across afternoon; night black as nest-holes. Our season,
when Rooks hunch like sacks in bare Limes, & small day-birds
fatten on berries; when leaves shrivel, & succulent
Squirrels shiver in dreys, as polar breath of northern winds
stirs our fluffed-out camo, this plumage patched like bark.
November, when our calls eerie up the night –
bone-flutes quivering viscera, commanding one another
Not-here! Not-there! Sonic border-warnings, falsetto
as your steam-trains shrieking out of nowhere:
Don’t cross this line! Each resounding tract is one bird’s
living larder – what dwells below intended to become
one with stealth; one with super-power hearing; one with crack
claw-catch, as warm, writhing bodies thrill the feet;
& beaks tear through furry skin into shuddering meat.

Does our ghost-voice haunt your dreams?
We, shadow-dwellers who occupy dark margins
that you diurnal creatures usually resist;
you, whose day-time woodland visits
we put up with – though frequently your chatter, &
the barks of canine pals, disrupt our sleep.
Yet now it seems, ill-content with spending night
locked inside your heated boxes, you invade our space
with blinding beams & deafening noise, confuse
our territorial calls, & scare away our prey.
With blasting energy-machines you paint the trees
unnatural colours, while throngs troop & tramp
the paths, & Ooo & Ah your ruse, your hoot at our expense –
this unwelcome spectacle of human disconnection.


Helen Moore is an award-winning ecopoet and socially engaged artist based in NE Scotland. Her debut collection, Hedge Fund, And Other Living Margins
( Shearsman Books, 2012), was described as being “in the great tradition of visionary politics in British poetry.” Her second, ECOZOA (Permanent Publications, 2015) – acclaimed by John Kinsella as “a milestone in the journey of ecopoetics” – responds to the current geological era, now termed ‘The Anthropocene’, by proposing an alternative ‘Ecozoic Era’ of restoration and adaptation.  FFI: www.natures-words.co.uk