A Collection of Poems: Creeper, Brown; Outside; Guilt Trip

By Lucia Owen


Creeper, Brown

Indexed so in Sibley’s splendid

bird book as if there were other

Creepers, Blue and Red or Iridescent.


It lives, vertical and shy, on tree trunks.

Minute, quick, and to say what I saw

takes longer than the instant


a Brown Creeper took a bath in 

a still place in hillside run-off near 

dusk on a December day. 


It splashed and flut-flutted its wings,

shook itself so droplets flew and 

caught the low light, and for a nano-second


it bathed in a misty rainbow. So

utterly small and private with no

need of me to see, or say its name


it flew up, landed, 

fluffed itself twice, 

preened and flew away.




We didn’t know what killed the deer, but 

that winter morning the carcass lay between our dirt road

and the lake. No choice but to leave it then watch

kite-winged crows then ravens feed

then days later one brindle coyote and 

that night even with glass panes between, a shiver 

as the pack’s yaps and yammers fed the atavistic

fear that we were cowering in the Arctic dark 

in a snow house. In the morning the carcass lay twisted,

bare backbone and rib cage a crumpled 

dismembered wreckage.


And then two eagles came. All that afternoon

they worked to drag the carcass

off the land onto the ice beating their wings 

to pull then eat then dig in talons and flap

with huge and mighty strokes to move it again and 

eat till only scattered bones and hide remained 

in the stark hierarchy and secret elegance

of nature’s economy.



Guilt Trip

In her basement this Saturday 

the countrywoman, retired, starts to collect stuff 

to take to the dump. Somehow she has never

bought ‘transfer station’ and wonders  

where it’s all transferred to and has a few ideas

but won’t ask for fear they’ll tell her and

she’ll turn inside-out with guilt. 


She eyes the four trash bags

of returnable ‘bottles’ that she thinks 

of as metonymy for all the milk and juice and beer

and designer sparkling water and just plain

water from the water thieves at Poland Spring

a.k.a. Nestlé that just the two of them have consumed.

Briefly she thinks of her good well water

and feels the familiar flinch of guilt.


She’s been worn thin by requests

to save the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and 

the Indonesian pygmy rhino and

the Furbish lousewort and 

because she was born with a dominant responsibility

gene she shorts out and can do

nothing about any of it. Then she thinks


How grocery shopping fries her

choice synapses and although her education

tells her no blueberries or swordfish from 

Peru or Chile, there’s beef and 

penitentiary chicken and whether the coffee

is shade grown and is what she wants

responsibly source (which means?) including

plant- based everything and how much

she dislikes soy. Her exhaustion 

and the dilemmas are existential. All that


Kicks in as she looks at the four trash bags.

She knows she will have to take them

to the Redemption Center 25 miles away 

where she will stand in line and think 

what Redemption for her might mean and 

how to ask for it. She knows 

she is far from it, often beyond it, and smiles

when she thinks of the mileage and 

the inner struggles she could use Redemption for.


This morning she loads the bottles and the trash 

together to skip the drive and live 

with the guilt of adding to the landfill 

maybe offset by her having

a smaller carbon footprint for the day.


Turning in, she sees a row of green plastic

trash cans next to the compactor

with a hand-lettered black on red sign

that says ‘Bottle Drop to Benefit

Boy Scouts.’


She pulls over, puts her head on her hands

on the steering wheel and laughs and 

laughs until she cries and

Ed the dump guy walks over and

taps on her window to asks if

she’s ok.


For information regarding recycling reform in Maine, check out the PDF link below:
Recycling Reform Facts