Katharyn Howd Machan
They’re getting bigger, you know.
Weighting down the rough-slate rooftop.
Foreheads bulging like rounded mountains
above dead-black eyes that never blink.
Iridescent feathers swelling wide
even though they never stretch in flight
again once their talons set down.
More come every night, you know;
I hear them through my attic ceiling
as they strut and peck and preen.
Once they begin their hell-bright shrieking
we’ll all flee, if we can, of course.
See how the sky’s getting ready for it:
purple, bruising, lost.
Katharyn Howd Machan lives in a small city in central New York State resplendent with gorges and waterfalls and a long lake. Author of 39 published collections of poems–most recently A Slow Bottle of Wine, winner of the 2019 Jessie Bryce Niles Chapbook Competition–she teaches students creative writing in fairy-tale-based courses at Ithaca College.
Backstory: The poem was inspired by a painting of wildlife in the Adirondacks (Old Forge Library), which produced imagined stories such as this one.
Image credit: Photograph of turkey vultures at Watts Bar Lake near Spring City, Tennessee (John C. Mannone) cropped and processed via prism filters in ToolWiz Photos.