Stops me down the wooded path behind my house, stilly perched on the inner limb of a magnolia, jolts my muscles, jumps my heartbeat with the plugged gold coins of its direct stare. And my overgrown yard is different, struck by the power of its size. I've heard them at night, the eerie parliament of low-toned hoo hoo's, unseen mystery in the trees. But this is a bold showing. After minutes its head swivels to the side, and I feel able to move, on down the trail, staring back at the mossless magnolia among moss-dripping oaks. I sit on a bench thinking. I'm fond of the squirrels, desperately fond of my cats. I should throw something, try to startle a flight of massive wings, but I can't. Primeval nature godlike. I wait, the owl hidden by big magnolia leaves, feeling its inscrutable presence. The stings of mosquitoes seem less, the rich smell of Ligustrum noticed less in this aura combined of beauty, foreboding. After a while blue jays appear, windfall and divebomb through magnolia leaves, making a collective whirlwind of squawks. I walk back, see the grey-brown owl risen on immense talons under spatter guards of white -- Vast wings lift like a cape, spread like an omen over my yard's creatures. Steven Croft Steven Croft live on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia on a property lush with vegetation. His work has appeared in Quaci Press Magazine, Red Eft Review, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Willawaw Journal, Poets Reading the News, North of Oxford, Beloved Blue River, and other places, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.