Owl Pellets

Owl pellets? They’re fascinating, for sure, but they’re also rather gruesome and a little bit gross. Owl pellets are about the unlikeliest subject for a love poem—maybe that’s why this poem has always been one of my personal favorites.

white and black owl
Photo by R Ben Marques

Owl Pellets

by Ralph Fletcher
from I Am Wings: Poems About Love

A month ago
in biology lab
you sat close to me
knee touching mine
your sweet smell
almost drowning out
the formaldehyde stink
which crinkled up
your nose
while I dissected
our fetal pig.

Now I take apart
this owl pellet
small bag that holds
skin and hair and bones
little skeletons
what the owl ate
but couldn’t digest
and coughed back up.

You sit with Jon Fox
ignore me completely
laugh at his dumb jokes
let your head fall onto
his bony shoulder
while I attempt
to piece together
with trembling hands
the tiny bones
of a baby snake.

Certain things 
are just about
to swallow. 

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