All night each reedy whinny
from a bird no bigger than a heart
flies out of a tall black pine
and, in a breath, is taken away
by the stars. Yet, with small hope
from the center of darkness
it calls out again and again.
Nebraska poet (and U.S. Poet Laureate) Ted Kooser knows that not all owls are the large "hoot" owls of popular iconography. Interestingly, the actual subject of two-thirds of the poem is the bird's sound, not the bird itself. And the bird per se of the second, final sentence remains a tenuous, eerie uncertainty, as the reader ponders the what and why of the bird's "small hope" and whether that "center of darkness" connotes more than the literal tree cavity from which it calls.