Wild Turkeys

by Anne Waters Green

The wild turkey hen scurries
across ridges and coves
guiding her brood of poults.
We count the rafter as they
traverse their route, twelve
chicks scattering willy-nilly
in all directions until mother
senses danger and circles
like a sheep dog shooing
them to safety if she can.

The season lengthens. One day
poults number ten, the next nine.
Even the most vigilant dame
cannot protect forever.
Still we see her mothering
half-grown young, even as
her flock diminishes.

Toms and jakes live a different
life. Like boys anywhere—brothers
in the hood, bubbas in the country—
they move in posses, strutting
and shoving, looking for girls.
Feathers puffed, wings
a-drag, they gobble loudly. Fights
break out. Dominant toms
fan brilliant tails, claim ground.
As compass needle to
magnet, hens are drawn, signal with their
call, Over here, over here.

Anne Green is a retired attorney and administrative judge who lives in Hendersonville. Inspirations include memorizing poetry in ninth grade and hearing her senior English teacher read “L'Allegro” and “Il Pensero.”

About Wild Turkeys—I am fascinated by the wild turkeys that often parade across our yard on Mount Hebron in southwest Henderson County.