Soaring like string-free kites, turkey vultures glide in lazy
circles with vee wings outstretched to feathered fingers.
Soothing, graceful silhouettes float on thermals, visible
shadows of winds that whistle through sooty
pinions. But at roadside they stand like grisly flagmen,
picking at blood spattered raccoons, possums
and porcupines, their fleshy red-pink heads the color
of the decaying muscle and gristle they rip and devour.
Telescopic eyesight and nostrils that smell sour death
for miles are a vulture’s kite strings tied to lanes
of traffic set like a table with decaying
delicacies delivered by fenders and tires. Ecological
undertakers, malodorous ministers of last rites
to the unburied, they dispose of the dead, scrub
the countryside and close a circle more spacious
than any traced in the sky.