The Owls: Multi-Use Area by Elizabeth Bradfield

Multi-Use Area

By Elizabeth Bradfield

Would the day on the hay flats—
sun slight through clouds, grasses
just starting again from last year’s
grasses, geese and cranes bugling
over the marsh—have been better
without the old tires, the gutted couch
in a pullout, a moose slumped alongside,
meat taken but the head still attached?

I can close my eyes to the pop bottles,
booze bottles, and orange skeet shells
in the parking lot, along the river. Walk
past them. I can pretend my own steps
through the marsh convey a different
presence. But I can’t close my ears.
There, a white-fronted goose, there
a pintail, willow branches cracking

underfoot, F-14s from the base. And there, again,
the shotgun blast and whoop which I can’t
edit out, which I probably shouldn’t.
It stops when I walk into view. I stop
and stare across the flats through my
binoculars, thinking asshole. And of course
someone’s staring back at me
over a truck bed, thinking asshole.


Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of the books Interpretive Work (Arktoi) and the forthcoming Approaching Ice (Persea). She plasters the streets with collaborations published by Broadsided Press and works as a naturalist. “Multi-Use” was originally published in Interpretive Work (Arktoi/Red Hen Press, 2008), winner of the Audre Lord Award from the Publishing Triangle and shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Award.

Read (or listen to) more of Elizabeth Bradfield's poems here >>


The Owls is a literary kind of site devoted mostly to collaborative writing projects. Poems, stories, and essays from The Owls appear on 3QD as a periodical feature.

The Owls site currently hosts a photostream by Frederick Schroeder, “Night Drive,” and “Screen Grabs,” an occasional column-by-Twitter-feed on movies by Ben Walters. Work by Jim Gavin, Morgan Meis, Amy Groshek, and Jill McDonough has appeared on the site in recent weeks as part of a project called “Stamps” that features writing about places. The Stamps project will continue this summer with a new post each week on The Owls site.

You may receive updates about writing projects at The Owls here at 3QD, via feed, or by putting the word “subscribe” in the subject heading of an email to owlsmag[at]gmail[dot]com.