On the day Scott passed, vultures soared the gray skies in dozens. When they first came
down to me in the yard, nearly to my roof, I could hear their wings fold like water.
I have found no evidence of a carcass.
This morning I awoke from a dream, the first one of him since he died, but I lost it in
a sunlight that rose and fell as if he were toying with my dimmer switch. Prankster. (He would
warm coins with a lighter to sting me awake from our hangovers.)
Home from college my first fall, we were driving with our windows down. Leaves adrift
crimson across the hollow, testing the wiper blades of his most recent car. Junkers that would
always break down before the next one.
I was making fun of the music blasting from his cassette deck when he started to cry. Just
one tear. Was he sleeping in his car again? Cut off from parents, all his siblings except a sister?
Lured into another dicey scheme or on the run from someone with a code?
Is this samsara? he asked me once, after I had given him my copy of The Tibetan Book of
the Dead, which I had only skimmed.
The pages of his old letters, some on the backs of court-order forms, float from my desk,
filing cabinets, rise from junk in random drawers: ghosts I’m only now answering, a loneliness
I so easily set aside as if it were my keys.
Written from jail, Scott’s last letter came with the Prayer of St. Francis. (Animals were
always following him.)
Vultures have gathered in the pines. Batting their wings in the dark conifers as if the trees themselves desired flight, held back in place by their roots. Each bird shoves the next into air. They flap, then glide, for a time.
But I don’t think that they’ll be coming back.
B.J. Wilson is the author of two poetry collections, Naming the Trees (The Main Street Rag, 2021) and Tuckasee (Finishing Line Press, 2020). His work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Frogpond, Gravel, The Louisville Review, New Madrid, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University, a writing fellowship from The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and a Pushcart Prize Nomination for his poetry. B.J. lives and teaches in Jacksonville, Alabama.