Owl Prowl

My fiancée’s aunt takes us to look for owls.

We wear ice cleats. New family, new ways,

but I’m an indoor cat (cats are another thing

I’ve had to learn). I am new at this, new

as the ring on my finger, but my love

puts on earmuffs and glows in the full moon.

I pull up my hood. We stand in a circle

and strain for owl calls. Who-cooks-for-you?

Who-cooks-for-you? my new aunt calls, but no,

no owls come. Stillness. I hear the highway

and people shifting their weight, the ice cracking.

I’m an indoor cat, bundled up, impatient, but

I won’t ruin this pristine moment, not with

my love standing eager in the pale light.

I brace myself for a long and frozen watch.


But the wind dies down and the quiet trees

shield us as best they can. In my borrowed boots,

I stamp up and downhill, crushing crystals,

making the path safe. The night dilates our eyes.

as we wait in the cold, in the bright forest hush,

standing next to each other, facing out.

No owls come. And after all, it’s not so terrible.


Author: Maya Chhabra

Maya Chhabra is the author of the novel Stranger on the Home Front and various pieces of short fiction, poetry, and translation. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and Cast of Wonders, and been nominated for the Rhysling Award. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner.

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