Seen in an Almost Empty Elementary School Parking Lot One November Afternoon at Four-Thirty
Through the honest tree limbs a hundred vultures float
like a cloud of gnats. No like the floating ashes of burning leaves.
No as they get closer I see they are stitching something
into the air, shape of a common hunger borne aloft
and visible only through this inscribing of individual
wills in contrast and in wind, swirling like the last
sip of wine in a glass, up, down, settle, rinsed away,
all just a matter of perception of a form against
its temporary constraint, not ever really part of your
moment when it continues on, or ceases holding
your own thought against the edges of your world
as if the world was something to hold your drink
or your memories, or even your body in its form
perceived from two hundred feet up and a quarter
of a mile away as something too big to land on and eat.
Jeff, I see it and I still don’t believe it — a small cloud of words transformed into miracle and grace. God, I wish I knew how to do this!
Err, I think you do. In a lot fewer syllables.
You do me great honor. But it’s one thing to shuffle a few words into a glorified still photograph but quite another to create a motion-picture from a child’s sand bucket of immaculate words. Yours is the latter! *g*
“all just a matter of perception of a form against/ its temporary constraint” — I love how you play with perspective — and perception — in this poem, distilling the movement of the mind.
I’ve come back to this several times today; I just love it. The imagery of the vultures as floating ashes, the shaking up and settling and shifting of everything, and above all the beauty of our fleeting states of thinking and being all make this Zen practitioner smile. Also I’m happy that you were too big to eat (and much too lively). ^_^
Thanks SJ! Now you need to write the poem about coming back to the same poem, and if it’s the same poem, and if you’re the same reader, and so on…I’ll give you a couple minutes…
Woooo. I really like this. The imagery of the vultures, their changing patterns as they fly. Vultures are a loaded image with lots of layers, and as a symbol, well, whammo. Like lead. Portentous 😉
I live on a farm and see birth and death, of all kinds, all the time. I feel for those removed from the ongoing pageant of life, one life replacing another again and again, and in a poof, an instant. It’s the way it is. Most people live in a bubble of denial that it’s any other way.