“Strix aluco” by Nikki Robson
Among the moss brushed from the north side of the roof
– an owl pellet.
Brownish grey, one end more rounded than the other,
hard, but it prised apart easily in my fingers,
gave up the nightly diet of rodent, bird and bug.
In Shetland, Jan found a seal’s tooth in one,
washed it clean and kept it, always, in his wallet.
He’d never seen, he said, such a prize in Poland.
I knew exactly when she had perched. Endlessly awake,
I too had stomach acid too weak to digest what lay ahead,
I too gagged on the bones.
Her quivered hoot beside me only once,
so uncommonly close I almost felt the flap of folding wings
as she regurgitated the unpalatable,
disguised a gift amongst the moss to unwrap
on the very day I needed a shiver of eternity.