By Cleopatra Mathis
February white, and the clean wing
of the vulture punctuates
the pristine air, the snow so lit
it's blue, another sea, a heaven for grief.
But this bird knows what the dead are for,
knows what's ripe to be taken,
his serrated feather-edge like a saw
working the sky's perimeter. His life
is bent on watching, waiting
for the second to sweep
his sleek body down. For him, accuracy
is what I call ferocity. I'm the one
assigning value, my warning in the word.
Vulture, turkey buzzard, crow -- all of them
repel me with their unflinching need.
The body dies, they eat it,
rot and all, a progression
not so different from the ordinarily beautiful
flower giving itself up to fruit, then the fruit
withering for the sake of seed.
And so on, without sentiment.
I had a nice if bittersweet Sunday. We picked Adam and his hamantaschen and Girl Scout Cookies up a bit early from working at Hebrew school to go to Mount Vernon, where we had discovered two litters of piglets were born on February 24th and were already running around in the pens. We met dementordelta in the visitor center and went to see the animals -- pregnant sheep, lazy cows, loud chickens -- and the gardens, where there are some flowers and very early cabbages growing, plus some of the outer buildings and the view over the currently muddy post-storm Potomac River looking toward Fort Washington. Then we went and had hot chocolate and cheese in the visitor center.
We knew that we would not have time to tour the house on this visit because in the late afternoon my family all gathered at my cousin Jane's home following the funeral of her father. He was my great aunt Shirley's youngest brother and I have known his local family all my life; my parents and all my local cousins were there except one who's having surgery later in the week. It was nice to see all of them and all the family photos on display (Jane and Shirley are professional photo researchers and historians despite the sad occasion. We had leftover Chinese food from my mom's on Friday for dinner, then we watched Once Upon a Time and the Celtic Woman special on PBS. Younger son finished Phase Two of his room reorganization, swapping the mattresses on his bunk bed, and now we need to get him a collapsible table or desk of some sort. Now they are saying we may have snow flurries tomorrow after gorgeous near-60 degree temperatures today, so I am as confused as the robins and daffodils must be.