portion of the artwork for Mather Schneider's poem

The Vulture
Mather Schneider

The turkey vulture digs out a dead snake’s eyeball
and staggers on the yellow line

like stitches
down the spine of the highway.

In the heat waves he feasts—
bloody finger for a head—

as I bear down on him in my taxi.
I’m driving Mrs. Castillo and her grown daughter

to the doctor.
Mrs. Castillo has cancer

and her daughter keeps her company
when she goes to chemotherapy

once a week.
Mrs. Castillo doesn’t seem to be afraid of dying,

they are both usually as serene and chirpy
as if they were just traipsing off

to the beauty parlor.
But at the sight of that mutilated snake

Mrs. Castillo starts screaming:

twisting in spasms of horror
eyes shut tight and real nightmare tears

coming out from underneath.
Her daughter tells me her mom is terrified of snakes,

even dead ones.
She can hardly breathe through her choked sobs

and we are all on the verge
of panic,

all except for the vulture
who calmly looks at us,

takes his prize and rises
into the clean blue air.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 47 | Spring 2016