Abby Beckel

I Dream of Owls


I gather the light,

or so it seems—

the streetlights go dark

when I pass beneath them.

So you are the queen

of darkness, he says.

Hunh, I say. Couldn’t I be

the collector of light?

But he has a point.

If the light is not destroyed,

shouldn’t it be shining

out of me prism-like?

I dream of owls,

their silent, dark winging,

the sharp watchfulness

of their golden eyes,

eyes that hoard the light,

eyes that could either be

glowing or reflecting.

I can’t return the glow

back to the streetlamps,

so maybe I don’t possess it

at all, and, freed, it slips

away soundlessly across

the humid sky, leaving us

in the dark argument of night.











What My Sister Sees


Something is on fire in the valley.

The view from the porch is hazy,

air shimmery with ash and heat.

We’re up out of our rockers to watch,

wondering should we call for help.

She’s climbed up on the railing, clings

to the pole, hand cupping her eyebrows,

outdoing me with outward concern.

It seems amazing that we can hear

nothing from the valley—the mountains

still whisper across our windchimes.

A cluster of darkness comes winging

in toward the valley from the peaks,

circles, descending. Here come the angels,

she says. They look like flying monkeys

to me, I say. She studies the dark shapes.

Well, that’s evolution for you, she says.

I squint into the blankness of smoke,

willing myself to see, like her,

a shiver of goodness on their wings.










Online Dating


What you said: I’m really glad we decided on Thai food.

What I heard: There are butterfly wings in my Thai food.


I peer into your Pad Thai. There is nothing

so perfect there as the balance of strength

and brokenness, the play of curve and sheath

and softness. No hint of Monarch, Skipper, or Daggerwing.


I whisper: Where?

You say: Oh, I’m from New Jersey originally, but went to high school near Philly. You?

I hear: Oh, I used to ride bareback on a Jersey cow we called Chuck.


I try to picture you riding a cow,

wonder what makes a Jersey cow different

from a Guernsey. Easier to ride? Flatter-backed?

Chuck.  Fair enough. I search your round face

for ruggedness, for brash rodeo looks.


You seem to be waiting for an answer.

I say: That’s cool.

You say: Umm, yeah, it was okay. Went to college in upstate New York

and I loved it up there. Beautiful lakes.

I hear: Umm, yeah, I’m an astronaut in training. Part of the new moon mission

NASA is cooking up. Beautiful lunarscapes.


Okay, your non sequiturs are getting hard to follow.

I know my profile says “In search of a fascinating man,”

but you’re kind of overdoing it. I like the moon thing though,

see you bouncing through silver dust, bringing me

moonrocks. Me staring up every night knowing you float

inside that glow, my most fascinating boyfriend to date.