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

The Sage of Bucyrus

Verdy Cousins

The Final Lesson The men standing in the moonlight on that narrow porch represented the best of Bucyrus–the mayor, Colonel Hank. . .

stories

Late Style

Brandon Kreitler

They pile the barley in stacks and the unspoken halves / are greater. The season is an ongoing industry now . . .

poems

Spine Surgery

Fred Marchant

nerve-root
               cord in the tunnel
                             from mind to the. . .

poems

Baffler Newsletter

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

Further Reading

 April 30

The political commentator William Schneider has often quoted, over the years, a comment he attributes to the British prime minister. . .

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.