He never said how owls were special,
just taught us to listen to their hoots
and wickerings falling past the moon.
How to track a heron’s silhouette
across the sky by the pulsing of their
wings, scooping air to propel long
bodies into the wispy clouds of a
summer’s evening. He never did
say much of anything unless it
was the please and thank yous
of his childhood after a good
meatloaf dinner, or another tie
come Christmas time. He did say
you took care of those that helped
you, tipped well, thanked the mechanic.
Shared the odd bottle come holidays.
He spoke mostly with his hands, carving
sea turtles, shaping the lathed stem to
a floor lamp, cutting pipe to bring
the water inside, setting the first
flush toilet on its golden wax ring.
We never spoke of how we could
drive miles and only call out the next
number of our accumulated hawks,
both sides of the highway being fair
as long as we could prove their
location if challenged. He’d ask now
and then if I was all right, and I’d
mumble Yeah, or Sure. We knew
the only language we really needed
was for what crawled or flew, knew
to respect silence without fear.