Air Canada Owls

The boreal owl,
aegolius funereus,
was also known as
or water dripping owl
at least by Indians
whose legends recount
how the Creator
this owl’s great size
and voice
because its vanity
grew too much
to bear.

All this my Air Canada
connoisseur menu card
about the cover painting:
this owl
whose eyes
now fix on me
from the conifers.

This vain sage
beckons me now to
turn the page
and choose
a turkey cutlet parmigiana
a rainbow trout amandine
in inimitable airline style
elbow to elbow
with fellow diners
belted to seats
hurtling through darkness.

My companion connoisseurs
of Air Canada 157
as the same prelude
to turkey or trout
must meet
the shrewd stare
of this boreal owl
that demands a choice.
Somewhere over Thunder Bay
I choose the trout
and imagine
my friend
also in flight
but to another destination.

Is he aboard
Air Canada?
On a supper flight?
Stared at
by a boreal owl?
he has discovered
asio otus,
long-eared owl,
who bids him
choose between
swiss steak
filet of sole meuniere?

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Air Canada Owls”?

What inspired “Air Canada Owls” was a flight, many years ago (1979/80), on Air Canada when they served full course meals on flights. On this particular flight, not only did they serve a meal, but they also had wonderful menu cards that featured a number of Canada’s notable species of owls. The unique and beautifully designed menu, and the owls that were featured, caught my attention and clearly created an impression on me that stayed with me a long time.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Air Canada Owls”?

I think this question is not one to ask the poet, but rather the reader.

This poem “Air Canada Owls” originally appeared in Popular Culture. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 108 (Spring 1986): 79-80.

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