Intruder - Claire Hamner Matturro

In the witching hour
when sleep eludes me
I tiptoe outside and listen
to the yip and hoot
from the woods and
follow a narrow trail
into the darkness of live oaks
and sweet gums whose shadows
clutch me like some
old warm embrace ignoring
my threadbare flannel but
catching feet barely clad in worn
sandals when the track of fox,
rat, squirrel, and bobcat
pull me deeper still,
my head tilted to
catch their elusive skitter
and tang until I am in a scrim
of huckleberry thickets
and palmetto fronds
where field mice go to ground
fleeing the rustle of the owl’s
wings and the woods tremble
with a fullness of being
but an opossum’s wild scurry
reminds me I am the intruder
whose heavy feet and human
smell imperil their world
until I tiptoe away,
only glancing at the cold
round glare of the owl which
follows as if to chase me out.

Claire Hamner Matturro has been a journalist in Alabama, a lawyer in Florida, an organic blueberry farmer in Georgia and taught at Florida State University College of Law and University of Oregon School of Law. Raised on tales of errant, unhinged kith and kin and more than a few nefarious whoppers, she counts storytelling as her cultural and genetic inheritance, and her poetry often flows from the urge to tell such tales. She is the author of eight novels, including a series of comedic legal thrillers published by HarperCollins. Her poetry has been published in various journals including Slant and Glassworks. She’s a long-standing associate editor at Southern Literary Review. She and her husband and their rescued, cross-eyed black cat live once more in Florida.