A Snag - Your Choice of Sacrifice; Sighting a Snowy Owl

by Xiaoly Li Issue: Spring 2019

 

A Snag - Your Choice of Sacrifice

 

                                                        "A dead tree is more alive than a live tree."

                                                                                —Forest ecologist Jerry Franklin

 

As a political prisoner,

you choose to become a tree,

face the sun.

 

To let birds nest and forage,

you grow in a swamp,

thus critters have shelters.

 

When you are turned to a snag,

you still stand tall in the mud,

to feed insects that feed birds.

 

After dying, you live for centuries.

From your vantage, the birds still come,

sunning, drumming and hibernating.

 

Even after you fall as a log,

you are home to fish and mushrooms,

that attract birds and keep them fly.

 

Sighting a Snowy Owl

                               

Your head circles. Your eyes,

the big round world,

reflect the setting sun.

 

Having left your arctic tundra,

warming, you migrate to my east

coast town, chase lemmings

in this boom year.

 

A rarity. A fairy tale.

From your perch on

the dead-wood pole,

you look down at me.

A spark, our living bond.

 

And you are not an innocent;

your dignity stops me closer

with a stern look —

you set the boundary between us.

 

You will not over-summer here.

Where will be your next home?

Will you come back?

Quiet, like a doll,

at the ocean side.



Xiaoly Li

Xiaoly Li is a poet, photographer, and former computer engineer who lives in Massachusetts. Her poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in RHINO Poetry, The Mantle, Big Windows Review, Up the River, The Writers Next Door - An Anthology of Poetry and Prose, J Journal and other journals.