Shelley Blue Grabel

Reflections double the story

January reveals abandoned nests
in the crook arms of trees,
doubled in the placid pond.
Even the grackles, jays and cardinals gone.

A turkey vulture swoops in
and pulls my attention to
the other side of the two-lane road.

A broken field pretending sleep
sends a powerful smell of
earth split open,
jutting black soil,
shredded remains of tree roots

The vulture song seeks what
everyone else shuns,
dead doe, flattened squirrels, and
old fox carcasses waiting for
their turn to be returned.

Everyone has a family name,
even vultures:
Cathartes aura
a cleansing breeze.

Wingspans extend beyond
the edge of the field.
Wingspans make their own wind.
Wingspans create a small tornado
in this precise spot.

a winged tornado cleanses
a tornado that touches
only what is already dead
a tornado swoops

and lands and feasts
a joyful tornado
a sacred time
a tornado washes
death’s debris
a tornado swirls
a tornado wins.

Even vultures
leave remnants
for scavengers like me
to carve a femur
into a serving spoon.
A skull cleaned and bleached by sun.
A skull cleansed in the reflecting pool
becomes a bowl for soup or stew.

Scavenging has become
my habit
in this quiet time.
I stop and stoop
my eye drawn to
a yogurt cup
a ribbon from your 80th
a photo strip
from a carnival booth
discarded and dripping
mud revealing your face
for a moment
then receding fast.

All poetry is memory
Not all memories are poetic
mine fade in and out.
My poems are scattered
on the craggy branches
of the long dead tree
like a wake of Vultures.

Shelley Blue Grabel has been writing poetry since she learned to write. In 1975 Persephone Press published The Fourteenth Witch, a book of Shelley’s poems with photographs by Deborah Snow. In 2022, Broadkill River Press published a new collection of her work, Dowry Burnings. She has performed her poetry in NYC coffee houses, Philadelphia venues, Irish Eyes, Lewes Library, Rehoboth Writers Guild Night of Poetry and Song, Milton Poetry Fest and other local venues. She continues to develop her poetic style thanks to workshops and retreats sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts.