A poem By: 
Theme: People

i.m. Mary Foster (1955-2010) and Joan James (1926-2010)

About the artist

Helen Garrett’s paintings explore the eternal themes of love, fate and transience. ‘It is the mystery of life that inspires me as a painter.’ Find out more

The owls arrived for the summer
after you both had left.

Hidden in the velvety softness of the night
they called one to the other
in their low and haunting twitters and woos
with such sonorous insistence.

almost, to the human ear at least,
in their demands to be heard.

it made us wonder what, in particular,
they wanted to say?

Then, bold as the bright of day
one of them waited on the gate of the far field,
as we took our morning walk.
Watching, wide eyed. We stop.
Astonishment greeting astonishment.

Later, driving home at dusk,
a second owl waited with uncanny confidence
at the turn of the road toward home,
perched on the name of your house.

What sign was this?
The absence of the dead
making their presence known?
Speaking to us, telling us – what? – of their passing
through calling night after night?

And if that were not enough.
We awoke early one morning
to a lone owl, so right outside the window
it felt as if it was within
wooing us with that same insistence.

Fret not.
You are absent both
and you are always present.

We cannot reach you
but you come close with the owls.

Reminding us.
Reminding us of everything.