As If

We’re strapped into our rented Ford,
skimming along a Central Valley
highway. Around us, sky is clamped
to earth by fence posts and ragged
communities of exhausted harvest.
Ahead, sullen foothills crouch on
the horizon, parched and bruised
by the collapsing of the hot
angry day. Chasing mile after
mile, suddenly my gaze is
tethered to the road’s edge.
A snowy owl stares saucer-
eyed, poised on dirt and pebbles,
its feathers trembled by our
wake. My breath arrests as if I’d
seen a ghost, as if it had called
my name, and possessed me.
Laurel Mitchell Hall
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