The purifiers

Every morning vultures soared above Christina’s house
sweeping low on the scent of putrescence
“I ain’t dead yet” she would hurl at them
along with whatever scraps were left
after she and the ginger cat had scraped the pot

Decaying from the waist down, her body
bore the taint of the charnel house
solicitous neighbours came with cakes and pies
children stopped by to stare and dare with bated breath
scurrying away in heaps of harmless laughter

As long as the weather was dry to the touch
Christina would drag herself into the open
clouds threw light and shade in quick succession
and under her crawling gait, the grasses
bruised and tawny, left a wake of new mown hay

From his window, an artist drew inspiration
mixed magic realism with immortal spirit
the ponderous pioneer awkward in a pink posed landscape
but he’d never seen how she would lie on the earth
arms thrown wide to a sensational uplift of current

Years later vultures still circled the house
shadows from their finger-tipped wings
stretched like comforting hands across the ceiling
“This flesh ain’t dead yet” she’d whisper
and quieter still: “but there’s to be a Christian burial”

©Laura Granby

1. Turkey vulture/buzzard/John Crow – Cathartes- latin/greek for “purifier”

2.Crawling woman in Christina’s Worlds thought to have Charcot-Marie Tooth Syndrome – Science Daily May 2016

The IGWRT challenge was a choice of Wyeth’s art to make poetry with – this is ‘Soaring’ and I’ve placed the buzzards in his more famous ‘Christina’s world’ for Artistic interpretations with Margaret 

20 thoughts on “The purifiers

  1. With the art of the storyteller, you have brought human interest to Wyeth’s stark landscapes, and given a voice to Christina’s world.

    1. soared with the artist’s marvellous birds here 🙂 Christina became very close friends with the Wyeths and he is buried near her in the Olson family cemetery in Cushing, Maine

    1. thank you MZ – tried to tune in to the spirit of these wonderful birds in Wyeth’s painting

  2. Christina became very close friends with
    the Wyeths and he is buried near her in
    the Olson family cemetery in Cushing, Maine

    This info tells so much of your closeness to knowing more of the artist than just the painting. It gives a sense of completeness to the poem. Great write Laura!


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