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.

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