Let us say we go off our food for a while,
Only able to stomach water with berries.
What then? What becomes of the craven miles
Of roadways and fallen creatures in our path?
We watch bodies, warred over by flies,
That marinate air for miles around,
Cook in the sun’s trembling flame,
Worms loop tunnels through them.
We pare our talons against the trunks
Of trees and keep our beaks sharp
By tearing off husk and bark
And marvel at our bloodless shirtfronts.
How long will it take before our dreams
Fill again with varieties of fallen bodies?
Before we circle in the air above a form
With our beady eyes and drop into its parachute
Of decay to begin the time of our lives?
The poem “Vulture Gastronomy” is taken from Fred D’Aguiar’s unpublished book-length poetry sequence entitled American Vulture. He teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Tech. His most recent novel was Bethany Bettany (2003). His most recent poetry collection, Continental Shelf (2009).
Photo courtesy of Carl Jones