Blessed are these vultures, robed in black,
blood on their beaks, on their clawed toes,
who attend most single-mindedly
to what we most want to forget—this death
at highway’s edge, a belly-opened,
fly-ridden fawn around which they shuffle
deliberately, wings jutting disjointedly.
The vultures say everything is flesh, nothing more.
Blessed is the kingdom where all things end
to clear the way once more for beginnings.
For theirs is the kingdom of transfiguration,
of the forever stilled taken into their ungainly bodies
and lifted up, their outstretched wings translating
the afternoon’s warm, rising thermals in elegant circles.
Always the same. Always new.
That throated trill, the throb of it
heard through shut windows
and doors, their inch-long bodies
inching in more and more March
light, the trees still in-waiting.
That first stirring, then frenzy—
peepers, coming alive with water
that slakes the dry thirst
of winter above and below ground
and a newborn sun’s command
to begin again, begin again.
That wonder at what is going on.
And when I open the door,
the still cold air thrilling to this
riot of need, my entire body
turns inside out, and yields
to these spring passions of earth.
Robert Cording has published eight collections of poems, including A Word in My Mouth: Selected Spiritual Poems (Wipf and Stock, 2013) and, most recently, Only So Far(CavanKerry Press, 2015). He has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in poetry and two poetry grants from the Connecticut Commission of the Arts. His poems have appeared in numerous publications such as The Nation, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, Poetry, The Hudson Review, Kenyon Review,New Ohio Review, New England Review, Orion, and The New Yorker.