The Owl Hour – by Joanne Clarkson

This poem was chosen for a musical response by Featured Musician and Professional Flute Player, Michael Morton

The Owl Hour

My father holds me in the darkness
with the hush of an owl fluting
through the little fir wood
next to our house. He holds me
against his chest. The buttons
of his shirt leave patterns on my cheek.
My father holds me and the owl.
Above us rides a cloud-broken
dipper. It will rain soon
but not now. My father hums
the owl sound. In another room

my mother plays her piano. He rocks me
in time to her fingers. The owl
knows only its own whisper. My father
smells like sawdust and tobacco, the way
I have ever since remembered
the owl, the secret feather of a voice
calling to another voice my father names
as mate. But being a child, I hear
a child’s answer from a long time
at play. “I am coming. I am almost home.”


Joanne M. Clarkson's poetry collection, The Fates, won Bright Hill Press annual contest and was published in 2017. Her chapbook, Believing the Body, from Gribble Press came out in 2014. Her poems have been published in such journals as Nimrod, American Journal of Nursing, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry Northwest, Alaska Quarterly Review and others. Clarkson has Master's Degrees in English and Library Science, has taught and worked as a professional librarian. After caring for her mother through a long illness, she re-careered as a Registered Nurse specializing in Home Health and Hospice Care. See more at

Statement by Featured Artist, Shelley Thomas: The velvet moments. The snug moments. Thick and creamy. Luxurious sensory mindfulness. Almost dreamy, as though we are caught somewhere between relaxed wakefulness and light sleep. Every day details become deep and profound. There is weightiness to them. Holding of a moment. Capturing a moment. The span of a wing beat that is felt for a lifetime.
Art: “Velvet,” 2020 (Salmon Creek, California)

Statement by Featured Musician: Michael Morton: Creating music inspired by poetry is something I've never done. I've played while poets spoke. When I read The Owl Hour, I was compelled to capture it word for word. It took me back to my childhood when I used to make up songs to the poems in Encyclopedia's "Childcraft Poems & Rhymes" book, which I still have.