Katherine Simmons


Elusive Wood Thrush scarcely seen,
you and I weave this woodland path in secret.
Your flute notes rise, beguile me as I dream.
A quick flit – my eyes flash, I glimpse your wings –
you pull me through these vine-draped woods
where like you I blend as though invisible.

In the oak the Great-Horned Owl remains invisible,
feathers barred like bark, in twilight hardly seen.
Done with night’s hungry flights through misty woods,
his stillness now obscures his perch, the secret
branch he chose at dawn to stop and tuck his wings –
the very hour I stirred awake from churning daybreak dreams.

Cawing Crow crying out, methodically flapping in my dream –
He storms and strikes the ghost-like Owl – barely visible –
swoops and mobs with black pummeling of wings.
He crows his raucous scream to make the dark bird seen.
This is how Crow reveals with sharp alarm Owl’s secret
roost in braided veil of twigs and buds and wood.

In loose moist litter of last year’s leaves and rotting wood,
I sense the fear and scurry pattering through my dream.
Inhabitants of an earthy world, they tunnel there in secret –
trembling mice and warm damp voles, invisible –
fearing Owl’s swift swoop, not daring to be seen –
paralyzed by flashing shadow overhead – the great bird’s wings.

In blazing-diamond dream state, I soar with broad, taut wings
over the canopy, above the stream that cuts the woods.
I see the Thrush, the Owl, the Crow, the Crow, the Crow I see.
Of mice and voles and damp decaying wood, I dream
while curled asleep in bed, omniscient and invisible.
Communion with Owl and Crow unites our hearts – a secret.

When first awake I cannot recall this secret.
Scant remnants leap then fade: Thrush, Crow, Crow, wings –
eluding reason’s grasp – the Owl – a messenger, invisible
gaze of death perched high in these peculiar woods?
I grasp at fragments spinning from my dream,
yet sense the essence lies in what I cannot see.

I do not own those illusive woods; I have no wings.
And what I see in this unbidden dream
remains to most invisible, a half-light secret.


A native of Indiana, Katherine lived for many years in New York where she practiced law. She retired to the Hoosier state to live near the land and people she loved as a child. She now enjoys a variety of interests including poetry, nature, wild yeast bread-making, and German. Recently she began to volunteer her legal skills in connection with the Afghan refugee crisis. Katherine has had the good fortune to encounter in Indiana a community of poets from whom to learn and with whom to share the craft. Katherine’s poetry has been published in the Still Points Arts Quarterly, the Anglican Theological Review, Mayfly Haiku Magazine, OpenDoor Magazine, As Above So Below, Me As a Child, Dis-Ordered, Silver Birch Press, Flying Island, Through the Sycamores, the Indiana Native Plant Society Journal and Of Rust and Glass.