On the highest branch of the tallest tree
after the rain, they open their bent-umbrella
wings and claim breezes
till they’re dry enough to puff
and then loom, black-hole sentries
surveying the neighborhood,
consolidating all the world’s shadow
and leaving the light for us.
Three vultures grip the top of the fence,
peering at the yard behind ours,
stuck to a bad smell,
charcoal coats tucked close
like Dickensian funeral directors.
The driveway flickers
with hawks and buzzards circling,
waiting for us to leave.
About the Author: Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo, and makes her husband laugh in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and New Ohio Review. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.
Image Credit: Image from The birds of North America New York, U.S.A. Published under the auspices of the Natural Science Association of America, 1895, c1888. Public domain image courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library.