In evergreens the Saw Whet will roost near eye level
close to the trunk. The size of a robin,
it is hard to find in any Northeastern
forest. Nocturnal, it will feast
on large insects, mice, shrews, voles, even
young squirrels. When found in the Rockefeller Center
Norway Spruce, after a long haul from Oneonta,
it made the evening news, every New York paper.
Three days on the road, no food or water,
an upbeat story amid warnings
of a pandemic surge and approaching
winter. But only good news if the Saw Whet
could survive. It did. It was set free.
I’ve never seen one Saw Whet, in city or forest, given
I don’t venture into the wild. I find it hard
to believe owls are some harbinger of death.
If they are, I can only imagine owls
far down any grim list.
I hope anyone will find the holidays
they desire, or at least one
of some unquestionable need.
Tonight I will imagine
the Saw Whet owl of Rockefeller Center
in an evergreen forest. Alive.
Safe in the present moment.

Michael Carrino is a retired lecturer in the English department at SUNY Plattsburgh. He was co-founder and poetry editor of the Saranac Review. He has had seven books of poetry published as well as many individual poems in numerous literary journals.