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The Vulture & the Body

ISSUE:  Fall 2017


On my way to the fertility clinic,

                                  I pass five dead animals.

First a raccoon with all four paws to the sky
               like he’s going to catch whatever bullshit load falls on him next.

Then, a grown coyote, his furred golden body soft against the white 
        cement lip of the traffic barrier. Trickster no longer,
an eye closed to what’s coming.

Close to the water tower that says, “Florence, Y’all,” which means I’m near Cincinnati,
   but still in the bluegrass state, and close to my exit, I see 

three dead deer, all staggered but together, and I realize as I speed past in my
death machine that they are a family. I say something

to myself that’s in between a prayer and curse—how dare we live
    on this Earth.

I want to tell my doctor about how we all hold a duality
       in our minds: futures entirely different. Footloose or forged.

I want to tell him how lately, it’s enough to be reminded that my body
     is not just my body, but that I’m made of old stars and so’s he, and that last Tuesday,

I sat alone in the car by the post office and just was for a whole hour, no one
knowing how to find me, until I got out, the sound of the car door shutting like a gun,

and mailed letters, all of them saying, Thank you.

But in the clinic, the sonogram wand showing my follicles, he asks if I have any questions,

      and says, Things are getting exciting.

I want to say, But what about all the dead animals? The Earth? Our trapped bodies?
But he goes quicksilver, and I’m left to pull my panties up like a big girl. 

Somedays there is a violent sister inside of me, and a red ladder 
that wants to go elsewhere. 

I drive home on the other side of the road, going south now. The white coat has said
     I’m ready, and I watch as a vulture crosses over me, heading toward

the carcasses I haven’t properly mourned or even forgiven. What if, instead of carrying 

     a child, I am supposed to carry grief? The great black scavenger flies parallel now,
each of us speeding, intently and driven, toward what we’ve been taught to do with death. 


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