“Turkey Vulture”

-(Of course this is a Red Tailed Hawk….I haven’t a painting of a Turkey Vulture)


Knew a woman
in a trailer park
in the scrub pines of Florida.

Poor as a church mouse,
half–crazed by life,
fed all the strays-
pariah of the neighborhood.

Every evening flocks of vultures,
like fixed-wing aircraft,
skimmed the pines,
landed in a muddle of dusty feathers,
awkward, out of their element
and with a group waddle
came to the cat food offered in pans.

They were patient guests,
waited for the strays to finish.

There was decorum
amongst them,
these fierce looking birds.
Perhaps they sensed
the charity offered
humbled their nature,
perhaps they had reformed,
I don’t know.

“Frank” was their leader
who held back until
the others were done.

Frank would never face you,
he sat sideways
though I believe he peeked.
Perhaps he was ashamed
A Lord of the Sky
brought to this station,
filling his crop with kibble
from a dented metal pan.

Come sit with me.
Extend a feather,
I promise not to stare.
Your warty red neck,
your hang-dog countenance
does not disturb me.

Feathers dusty, faded black
on Earth,
but wheeling into the Sun,
how glorious your wings!
Feathers exploding in prisms
And diamonds.

Come sit beside me.
Let our talons dig into the sand
let the ocean cleanse our feathers.
I will call you friend, brother
for the gift of humility
brought in on your wings.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2016 (an earlier form of “Turkey Vulture” was published in “Pitcher of Moon”, 2014, by Amazon.

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