in memory of Albert Serceau
How did the tawny owl get into my dream?
Aspeckled ball of fluff, rusty orange and white,
with a small, oval white head and yellow-flecked
black eyes, tumbled in, flitted and dipped round
the room, light as air. Children were there,
trying to catch him in their fists, and when I called out
to them not to squeeze him to death, he slipped
through their fingers and was gone.
Two months later I see your face
on the mortuary slab. You are wearing
your red bandana and your yellow sweat-shirt.
Your favourite Barbie is keeping you company.
What are those purple marks on your cheek and nose?
Your body is jagged, frozen in its last attitude,
your dark lashes resting on your round white face,
the brown eyes you used for talking sealed now
beneath their lids. I imagine your smile
remember the owl small enough to fit
in the palm of my hand and the children circling
round him, trying to grasp him, and the heart
beating in the ball of feathers as he slipped
through their fingers.