Where Vultures Gather

by Richard M. Ankers

I live as a ghost, staring out at oceans of clouds. There are birds here, some riding the air currents with languorous ease, others less so. 

A robin, if judged by its little red breast, perhaps the wind having swept it too close to the sun, burns in a snowdrift sending steam in all directions. As the snow melts, the robin slowly disappears, like a reverse snowman caught in a blaze. 

A passing eagle has no time for such small fry. To land and take a peck would be a waste of its precious time circling for carrion like me. This majestic creature is king of its domain, yet here I am disputing said fact. The eagle ignores me, regardless. 

I have seen much in my time, sailed the seven seas, climbed the highest peaks, wept, but nothing moves me more than this view. The Norwegian fjords come close, but there is no water to be seen in these cumulous valleys. The Alps come close, too, but only for the clean air. Even if I was to decide on a true comparison, the clouds evolve by the moment, requiring me to evolve with them. I have no chance to settle. I want no chance to settle. 

A brief flash of cerulean, like the bluest dagger, cuts a swathe of blinding light through the gloaming. Whether the light is the sky above, a sea below, or a memory of her eyes, I remain uncertain. But this silent intervention, this moment of refused calm stirs my mind to greater concentration. So, I do. I close my eyes so tight they might pop from my face like squashed oranges, and I think. And I remember. And I recall. 

The fog was so thick we pushed ourselves through it, not at all like my new home of lightness and wafting change. We heard the gulls, the raging surf; we so wanted to see both. It was a promise we’d made that day we gave up on each other, to see it together one more time, that place where it all began. 

We tiptoed close as brilliant white spumes slapped against our cheeks like vicious snow driven by a devil wind. An orchestra of nature’s upheaval, it stole our ears, and blinded our eyes. We should have stopped. But we were both stubborn. Neither of us wanted to be the first to go. 

I recall it all, the taste, the sound, the feel of her sweaty palm in my dry own. The wind filling our clothes like wings held wide. How we laughed, though, not for long. 

And I wonder, now, as I realise myself gone: Is she laid there? Do crabs pick her bones clean of flesh? Do seagulls sing her lullabies as the waves lap at her lips? Does she hold it still, hoping I’ll sign her away? 

To move on, you must acknowledge something is over. Now I have, I will. But what it is I have lost, I am less certain of, as the clouds pool around me once more and high-flying vultures in halos gather. 

Image by Alexandra from Pixabay 


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