Saturday, July 4, 2020

Vultures by Chinua Achebe


In the greyness 
and drizzle of one despondent 
dawn unstirred by harbingers 
of sunbreak a vulture 
perching high on broken 
bones 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... 

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 

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 the very germ 
of that kindred love is 
lodged the perpetuity 
of evil. 

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