Poetry: Late Summer Sketches

Two poems for summer's slow end.

“September Vulture”

Have you ever seen the leading edge of a vulture’s wing?

Really seen it?

Felt it?

Breathed the exhilaration of it?

This deep brown edged, two-toned foil—

A mahogany knife teetering gracefully through the sky.

Sometimes the bird seems to rush

over you, or through you.

Encourage you.

Which is strange for a creature with so somber a duty.

Though the line between tragedy and triumph

is surely porous,

and the victory of the bird in flight

is a collection of hundreds,

even thousands,

of stinging defeats and tragedies.

And yet, still sweet.

What, then, is there to be afraid of?


“Late Summer Revelation”

A late summer evening is the perfect time for a revelation.

When the birds’ migration shows us once again—

with spring’s euphoric memory fading—

that anything is possible;

That we live within a miracle.

Here, up in the tree.

There, by the shallow stream.

This evening a new and glorious vision unfurled.

High in the sky a line of nighthawks,

light and agile,

with mystic and snappy wingbeats,

streamed over me.

Late summer is a feeling,

maybe not so different from that

which pushes them on.

Of slow endings,

lethargic crumblings,

and new—

if harsher—possibilities.