Drafting: “The Vultures”

If you and I have had a conversation for more than 15 minutes, you’ve probably somehow learned that I love owls. It started out with me just collecting the odd figurine I found in an antique store, and then people in my life started giving me owl things as gifts. I have received owl finger puppets, owl necklaces, owl journals, owl t-shirts, owl sweatshirts, owl candles, owl pins, owl pictures, owl pens, owl pendants, and many other owl items. I started seeing owls as a totem animal for me, spirit guide or something of the sort. So, recap: lots of owl stuff. Obsession, check.

My husband surprised me by taking me to the Mid-South Raptor Center yesterday, which is where I got the inspiration for the poem I wrote today. While not open to the public, the director was willing to to let us come in and meet some of their owls. They happen to take care of and rehabilitate lots of different types of birds (owls, hawks, falcons, vultures, bald eagles, etc.), but I got to look at a barred owl and a screech owl up close. After that, the director showed us the birds he could show us to (some birds they don’t let have much human contact since they plan on releasing them back into the wild). We saw a bald eagle with part of its wing amputated, a falcon that was hit by a car and can no longer fly, as well as a turkey vulture that had been hit by a car. The turkey vulture just held its wings up and spun in circles. The director said it has some neurological problems, but that it can get around its cage and eat.

The poem right now is a comparison between vultures in the wild and this one in captivity, who seems to act like a girl at the prom, holding up her dress and spinning around. I particularly like the description of the vultures’ appearance:

“Their heads like ugly human hearts,
devalved, blackened, rimmed by a glistening shuck of fat.”

Right now, the poem is written in five tercets. It still needs a lot more work. More of the story of the vultures in the wild, the vulture in captivity, and the speaker and how the speaker bridges both of these, as well as emotionally engages with both. This is one of those poems that definitely needs more time to develop into something more. I felt a lot of empathy for this bird, no longer able to fly, spinning in circles, but that empathy isn’t in the poem yet. I’ve written the framework and need to give this some more time. We’ll see what comes of it!

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