Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Vultures" A poem by Margaret Atwood

by Margaret Atwood

Hung there in the thermal
whiteout of noon, dark ash
in the chimney’s updraft, turning
slowly like a thumb pressed down
on target; indolent V’s; flies, until they drop.

Then they’re hyenas, raucous
around the kill, flapping their black
umbrellas, the feathered red-eyed widows
whose pot bodies violate mourning,
the snigger at funerals,
the burp at the wake.

They cluster, like beetles
laying their eggs on carrion,
gluttonous for a space, a little
territory of murder: food
and children.

Frowzy old saint, bald-
headed and musty, scrawny-
necked recluse on your pillar
of blazing air which is not
heaven: what do you make
of death, which you do not
cause, which you eat daily?

I make life, which is prayer.
I make clean bones.
I make a gray zinc noise
which to me is a song.
Well, heart, out of all this
carnage, could you do better?


  1. Thank you! I was looking for this beautiful poem and here it was. Hadn't read it in years but it was just as terrific as I remembered.


  2. Does anybody know what "pot bodies" means in this poem?