Turkey Vultures

If someone gets up with the birds, they do not
get up with the turkey vultures who sleep late—
at least until the ground fog lifts—and then wait
like junks for the sun to warm the air and get it
moving. In our neighborhood, they squat
all night in the high limbs of a sycamore, and quit
these roosts awkwardly come morning, stepping
out into the air with one or two flaps, each oversized wing
working hard to prevent disaster. I read that silence
should not have to apologize to singing or talk
in a book on meditation, and, during a three-day walk
alone through the mountains last month, I met no one
so was quiet as a vulture. Mostly mute, they don’t mince
sounds, hissing or grunting only when supper’s begun.
A kettle settles, and for each bird the word is mum.

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