It felt like a boon 
unearned: the first night of the new
year, the moon full to the brim
in a sky wide and only a little

hazy, so that light filled the back
yard when I stood at the door;
this light like milk diluted by
a liquid paler than water, and I waited

to learn something, but the message,
when it made itself known, was
no mystery: over the dull roar of
the freeway, transmitted from the pine

next door, an owl’s call, four notes
in the classic pattern, Who WHO who who?
then a pause; then the call again, as though
impatient for a response

so I cupped my hands the way
my father taught me decades ago,
positioned my mouth carefully
above the knuckles of my thumbs,
and answered as best I could.