This next poem, "Barn Owl," is one of my annual Valentine [Day] poems. I've written 20 years worth of valentines, and "Barn Owl" is one of them. In each of these valentines, I try to either get the word "heart" or the color red or something like that. And you'll hear the "heart" coming out of this one.

Barn Owl

High in the chaffy, taffy-colored haze
of the hayloft, up under the starry
nail-hole twinkle of the old tin roof,
there in a nest of straw and baling twine
I have hidden my valentine for you:
a white heart woven of snowy feathers
in which wide eyes of welcome open
to you as you climb the rickety ladder
into my love. Behind those eyes is
a boudoir of intimate darkness, darling,
the silks of oblivion. And set like a jewel
dead center in the heart is a golden hook
the size of a finger ring, to hold you
always, plumpest sweetheart mouse of mine.

Poet Laureate Ted Kooser – "Barn Owl"


Other Poems by Ted Kooser:

"Abandoned Farmhouse"
"City Limits"
"The Great Grandparents"
"Great Plains in Winter"
"How to Foretell a Change
   in the Weather"
"In the Corners of Fields"
"Riding the Bus in Midwinter"
"So This is Nebraska"
"Spring Plowing"
"There is Always a Little Wind"
"Tillage Marks"