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"Who Cooks for You?"

This morning just before the rains began, the owls in the woods were busy warning each other of the impending storm. Richard Wilbur wrote a poem about owls to which I have referred before. In it, he suggests that we tend to soften the blows of the truth of the world when we explain things to our children. As I listened in the woods this morning, I could hear "who cooks for you?" in the voices of the owls, but I could also hear the gentle warning that I would suggest is never a bad thing to offer to our children and even each other. "Domesticating a fear" is perhaps sometimes necessary in order for one to rest.

Enjoy the poem below and listen next time you hear the owls...what do you hear?

A Barred Owl


The warping night air having brought the boom

Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,

We tell the wakened child that all she heard

Was an odd question from a forest bird,

Asking of us, if rightly listened to,

“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”

Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,

Can also thus domesticate a fear,

And send a small child back to sleep at night

Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight

Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw

Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.


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