Journal of Writing & Environment

“Portrait of Ornithologist as Short-Eared Owl”



after Aviary (Short-Eared Owl/special concern), a c-print by Sara Angelucci, 2013


Trussed upon the posing stand, he eyes

the photographer from behind a mask of feathers.


You cannot be certain of their color,

but the human shape of his eyes suggests


they are neither pale yellow nor sulphur—

amber, perhaps, or a dull, plain green.


If it were up to him, he would record the color

before plucking them from the specimen.


Also, he’d explore the oddity of the bare pate

with his sharpest scalpel.


It’s possible his own proclivities prevent him

from trusting the photographer.


Or maybe it’s because he cannot move

his head; cannot clap


his downward pointing beak at you;

cannot display the talons


he wants you to know

are there, just out of view.