Idris Anderson: “What the Vultures Say”


Three turkey vultures perch on the electric line,

now four and one has flown to a nearby cypress,

wings hunched up to their shoulders, naked heads

drawn down in their feathers, they are patient,

looking intently.  Something below must be dying,

something out in the marsh must still have a twitch,

a wiggle, a breathing, blood hasn’t stopped bleeding.

Flesh must be cooked in the sun, at least the beginning

of a putrefaction.  Meanwhile they have no problem

with balance, the view of the harbor is not a distraction.

They wait without fear of the power beneath them.

Wait, they tell me, wait.  Feel the swing of the moment,

and the promise, now, now, now, smell the sweet

mud-rot of the marsh. You are not alone in the world.

Idris Andersons second collection of poems, Doubtful Harbor, was selected by Sherod Santos for the Hollis Summers Prize and was published by Ohio University Press in 2018. A first collection of poems, Mrs. Ramsay’s Knee, was selected by Harold Bloom for the May Swenson Poetry Award and published by Utah State University Press. Anderson also has published poems in AGNI On-Line, Arts & Letters Prime, Crab Orchard Review, Hudson Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mudlark, The Nation, Ontario Review, Paris Review, Plume, Southern Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, ZYZZYVA and other journals.

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