Ode to Vulture

bird of prey
23 species extant, 16 living 

harpy eagle 
griffon, gyps fulvus
white-rumped bengalensis
Indian indicus
slender-billed tenuirostris.
white-backed africanus
Bearded barbitus

wing-span wide, you sail past my window,
swoop back, carried on an updraft
taking my breath

a group in flight, you’re a kettle
resting on the ground, a committee
feeding on carrion, a wake

associated only with death
yet related to storks
mythic bringer of new life

cathartae, your genus
in Greek meaning purifier
infection clearer
bacteria destroyer
you save more life than you take
Wisely worshiped by ancients
patron of Egyptian Nekhbet
legend of the Mayans, the Aztecs

now endangered
poisoned to extinction

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