Almost a Mothering

p
o
e
m
s

Consider reduction—the five turkey vultures
making sleek dark circles above the field

this morning. They hunt by smell, I read,
but hunt isn’t right—instead they gather

from the air some wind-translated
sign of carcass. No punishment, nothing inflicted—

the angle of their plunge a means to rewind
the self to material, almost a mothering.

Each afternoon, when the freight train
pushes its current with a high whine

through the culvert near the field,
I wonder what it leaves behind for them

and remember I was named
for the woman in that famous Russian novel,

who tossed herself from the platform at the station
as the engine pulled in. No revising that action.

She was a mother too.
At twelve, I read it and thought her a fool.

Now I see how a life buckles—a horse
whose head has been yanked

too often takes command how it can.
This morning, the vultures land

in the lichened branches of a nearby tree
as if to claim the offal of this neighborhood,

Red-crowned, they preen
with their hooked beaks, accepting every stain.

Anna Ross is the author of the poetry collection If a Storm, winner of the Anhinga-Robert Dana Prize, and the chapbook Figuring.

You Might Also Enjoy

No Knowing

Jennifer Nelson

“That a really accurate calculation or estimate may not exist, that the procedure is pure guess-work, or simply traditional. . .

poems

It’s a Limousine

Cate Marvin

It is nothing like a shark but the monochrome blanched off-white of its long body is dumb like a shark’s nose and dead eyes and it is turning a corner.

poems

Baffler Newsletter

New email subscribers receive a free copy of our current issue.

Further Reading

 July 1

A new history of cruising fails to reckon with the material conditions that pushed gay sex from the public sphere.

Heads Up: We recently updated our privacy policy to clarify how and why we collect personal data. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand this policy.