In Your Own Time For Frani
By Joseph Anthony Petro
In the shadow of trees
The owl glides over the moonlit marsh, like a dream.
Fireflies drift into shadow-dappled fields, like
A slow carnival of stars.
Bats break free from the shadow-shawled branches, like
Pieces of darkness fluttering through the sky.
It is alright to live in the shadows.
Candles and gold are brightest there.
It is also alright—more than alright-
To burst forth from the shadows, like
Morning through the trees,
To climb over riverbanks and spread over the shore
Perfectly imperfect—loving the shadows
For who they are, knowing their purpose is pure
As midnight, pure as cricket song, pure
As the talons of the owl as it blossoms from the darkness
And descends, joyously, full of hunger,
Towards the object of her desire.
It is alright—it is more than alright
To be who and what you are—
No matter the shadows, no matter the light—
The fields of the world
Await the beating of your wings.
You never were
Than you are now, and yet,
One day, one day sooner
Than you think,
You will be so much more.
It isn’t simply a matter of perspective.
It is more akin
To falling in love with yourself.
How can this be, and what
Does loving yourself
Have to do with anything?
Close your eyes.
Breathe in the image
Of a seed sleeping in the earth,
Hold it there a moment—
Now breathe out the image
Of a tree crowned with the sky.
Now breathe in the image
Of a bird’s egg,
Hold it there a moment—
Then breathe out the image
Of a bird, in this case an owl
Gliding with a mantle of stars
Over a moonlit marsh.
How is a tree—sturdy
Yet swaying, rooted yet reaching,
Not an image of the earth
Loving itself into the sky?
How is an owl, a heart with wings,
Not an image of the night
Turning its head around
To look at itself in pure astonishment
You were once a zygote
And now you are reading this
Blossoming into your life;
You are what loving your neighbor
As yourself is all about.
You are a seed-spark growing,
Reaching, branching out as a body of light—
God’s own flame
Dancing in a hearth of flesh and bone,
And one day, one day sooner than you think,
The flame will leap from the room
Of your life and become an owl of astonishment
Perched in a tree crowned with the sky
And sleep all day in a mantle of clouds,
Waiting for the night to fall in love
With itself again, so you can drop
And express yourself in silent flight
Swathed in moonlight and a hunger
That is both holy and full of becoming more
Than you are now.
In the night trees
You ask the question
While at the same time
Bragging that you know
And you glide
Around our houses,
Drift through the moonlight
Over our backyards,
Confident in your silent wings,
With the night
Coursing through your bones
With sheer joy
Above us all.
I lie awake
When I am finally able
To sob the same question
Into the darkness
I am racked with dread,
And I frantically try to avoid
The turn of your head,
Desperately try to blend in
With the surrounding shadows,
Wildly try to pretend
I have not been left out in the open—
And so I run, or I freeze,
Hell-bent on avoiding the talons
You close around those
Who do not know