Photo-Journal

Photography and Writing by James McCarthy

Barred owl

great horned owl

RUSTLE OF DRY LEAVES
walking the path
down to the river

crash of pine branches
startled
a big bird flies off

turkey or spruce grouse
oh — wow — an owl
eyes black as coal

alights on pine

large and stocky
rounded head
no ear tufts
mottled brown wings
white breast
vertical brown bars

ah, then, a barred owl

swamp owl
hoot owl
eight hooter
wood owl
rain owl
le chat-huant du Nord
(hooting cat of the North)

sit down
watching
waiting

to see
what
comes next

owl stares back
as curious about me
as I am about it

head turns
looks behind
slow turns back

no fear

holding the gaze
one minute,
two, three

time slows until
a whisper of feathers
owl flies off

ghost flight

into the woods

rustle of dry leaves
walking the path
down to the river