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For the Man Who Taught Tricks to Owls

You say they were slow to learn. The brains of owls
     Went down in your opinion through long hours
          Of unresponsive staring
While you showed them how to act out minor parts
     In the world of Harry Potter. Come with me now
          Into the night, perch motionless, balanced
On a branch above a thicket, where every choice
     Of a flight path is more narrow
          Than your broad wing-span, more jagged
And crooked than patterns of interrupted moonlight
     On twigs and fallen leaves, where what you take
          In silence with claws and beak to stay alive
Knows everything about you except your tricks,
     Except where you're going to be in the next instant
          And how you got there without anyone's help.

This article originally ran in the February 7, 2005 issue of the magazine.