The vultures are heading west, their slow flying
shadow grace just an illusion of the blank sky.
Clock them. They’re racing away fast as thought.
Faster than often-repeated certainties and fears.
They escape with gizzards full, hurtling toward the sun,
shuttling some soul’s nourishing remains westward.
Out there, I hope, they’ll catch the day that never ends,
the place, I believe, night will never fall.
After sunset, I hear the rumbling highway, cars
chasing westward, chasing dreams, the fading light.
I wrote the poem the other day in response to some footage I shot a few months back. I was going to try letting the poem grow out of the video to see how that worked (there’s a great discussion on this over at the Moving Poems Forum), but as it turns out the footage I based the poem on is nowhere in this video.
Here’s how this video came about. Yesterday, I was sitting in traffic when my phone rang. After the call, I set the phone on the dash. While I was sitting there looking at it, I thought maybe I could turn the videocamera on and let it just film sky while I was driving. I did and whenever I came to a light, I’d just stop the recording and reset it in a different place, either on the dash or against the window. It never occurred to me until yesterday just how useful it is to have a perfectly flat camera.
By the time, I got home I had the footage and I thought this poem would work well with it.
The birds at the beginning are not vultures. They are grackles, and that was just a lucky shot. I’d love to have more than a few seconds of that, but they just happened to fly over at that moment. I didn’t even realize I had gotten them since I was watching the road. I left them in because I think it’s a cool shot and decided not to change the poem.
The grackles there work on another level for me too since this one feels like both a Highway Sky and a Birds Nobody Loves poem.