Friday, December 04, 2020

"Rolled and rolled": Doubles in "Little Owl", by A. E. Stallings

 A. E. Stallings's "Like" recalls an experience of walking together "years ago on Spetses, / Under the evening star." That star, which is not a star but rather Venus, is doubled, as both the evening star and the morning star. And the poem keeps doubling: the surf that "rolled and rolled" in the next line is then picked up and varied in how the couple "strolled along the sea road"; the little owl that they see in a tree seems like "a small clay jar"; the "olive branch" that the owl is sitting on is a literal branch but also a symbol of peace in the moment that the poem remembers. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 4 December)


Little Owl

A. E. Stallings, Like, 57


            (Athena noctua)


It’s not what we see, but what sees us

Makes us who we are.

Do you remember years ago on Spetses,

Under the evening star,

As the surf rolled and rolled on its glass dowel

We strolled along the sea road

And spied a little owl

Less a bird

Than a small clay jar

Balanced implausibly on an olive branch,

A drab still vessel attuned to whatever stirred,

Near or far:

Hedgehog shuffling among windfall of figs,

Gecko, mouse.

Then she swiveled the orbit of her gaze upon us

Like the Cyclops eye-beam of a lighthouse.


Second post on the poem here.

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