September172009

In the greyness
and drizzle of one despondent

dawn unstirred by harbingers
of sunbreak a vulture

perching high on broken
bone of a dead tree
nestled close to his
mate his smooth
bashed-in head, a pebble
on a stem rooted in

a dump of gross
feathers, inclined affectionately
to hers. Yesterday they picked
the eyes of a swollen
corpse in a water-logged
trench and ate the things in its bowel. Full
gorged they chose their roost

keeping the hollowed remnant
in easy range of cold
telescopic eyes …
Strange
indeed how love in other
ways so particular
will pick a corner

in that charnel-house
tidy it and coil up there, perhaps
even fall asleep - her face

turned to the wall!
…Thus the Commandant at Belsen
Camp going home for
the day with fumes of
human roast clinging
rebelliously to his hairy
nostrils will stop
at the wayside sweet-shop
and pick up a chocolate
for his tender offspring
waiting at home for Daddy’s return …
Praise bounteous
providence if you will
that grants even an ogre
a tiny glow-worm
tenderness encapsulated
in icy caverns of a cruel
heart or else despair

for in every germ
of that kindred love is
lodged the perpetuity
of evil.

The Vultures - Chinua Achebe
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