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Three Ways of Looking at Vultures

By John I. Blair

The great black vultures, stretching silent wings,
Soar across the hill on the morning breeze.
They drift above the trees, above the lake,
And look so natural in the world,
These graceful birds of death,
Thrilling to see, beautiful, and chilling.

Under the noon sky the woods spread lush and green
Around the trees where the vultures roost;
But these two trees are rotting,
And on the ground beneath
Everything reeks of death and digestion,
The awful and the necessary.

It's evening and the sun sinks
Toward the western hills.
In their ritual of farewell to the light
The vultures are spiraling
So high they rise nearly to the clouds.
They thrive by finding death,
But they give the dead back to the living land
And in their evening flight
Link the earth to the shining air.

2002 John I. Blair  

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