Minnesota Poetry: Freya Manfred’s “The Owl Cries at Night”

Freya Manfred grew up in western Minnesota, near Pipestone, where she gained the love of the natural world. Daughter of artist Frederick Manfred, her memoir of him was nominated for a Minnesota Book Award. She now lives with her husband, screenwriter Thomas Pope, and her twin sons, on Bass Lake near Hudson, Wisconsin.

Her published poetry books are: A Goldenrod Will Grow (Groveland Press), Yellow Squash Woman (Thorp Springs Press), American Roads (Overlook/Viking), Flesh and Blood (Red Dragonfly Press), My Only Home (Red Dragonfly Press), and Swimming With A Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle (Red Dragonfly Press). Nature and the outdoor world, as well as the relationships between human beings — family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers — are the primary subjects of her work.

The Owl Cries at Night

The owl cries at night,

and I imagine her wide gold eyes

and feathered ears tuned

to the trembling woods and waters,

seeing and hearing what

I will never see or hear:

a red fox with one bloody paw,

a hunch-backed rabbit running,

sand grains grating on the shore,

a brown leaf crackling

under a brown mouse foot.

With so much to learn,

I could stop writing forever,

and still live well.

– Freya Manfred’s “The Owl Cries at Night,” as it appears in her collection Swimming with a Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle, published by Red Dragonfly Press. Reprinted here with permission from the author.

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