Buzzards at Allatoona Pass
Christopher Martin

In droves, they drift thermals, char black
inscriptions burned on cumulus clouds—
more buzzards than I have ever seen
in one place, here where rails once cut
the Allatoona Range, straddled this ridge
where the Etowah River ceases, swells,
converges with riprap, converts to lake.

An elegy for pinewood banks become bone,
battlefield become burial ground, burial ground
become lake bottom, points of departure
become refuge for channel cats among decay,
above water and wake of speedboats,
the buzzards float as they did in days
that stalked Atlanta’s fall, before it rose,
morphed to mythical bird: days boys bled,
a thousand dead in mere hours, time kept
by wing beats, the somnolence of scavengers
marked upon sky like lost names upon stone.

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