The Red Vulture

by John Oravets

You take me for a ride in the country. I sit behind you in your ancient open car. Like a good mother you stop when I ask to look at a downy woodpecker perched in a bush beside the dusty road. While I watch, the little bird whirls and swells into a red vulture with a face black as the devil’s cloak. His wings droop and his amber eyes are as sad and cold as river stones.

Why are you here? the vulture demands. I don’t know. My mother brought me. His eyes brighten when he sees her. Your mother and I met years ago when she came here to hang her wash on that old snag.

Suddenly, I am sitting alone in a posh restaurant. A waiter brings me a steak, blood forming a ring round the inner rim of the alabaster plate. I cannot eat.

John Oravets was a newspaper copy editor for forty-three years before retiring in 2004.

About The Red Vulture—This prose poem is based on a dream. As an admirer of Carl Jung, I have kept a dream journal for many years. Jung said that occasionally we have a “Big Dream,” and my encounter with the Red Vulture seemed to be one of those.