Survivors Guilt

by Nick Stanovick
after Derrick Austin
A small mare,
savaged in a field, its neck
coiled in barbed wire and reddened froth.
                 Bent lumber and limbs
of trees conquer the grassland,
strewn and disjointed like wartime dead.
                 I am no medic.
My heartbeat sends the vulture away. Circling, circling
the ruin, deciding where to land.
Boone County sifts through its rubble:
                 whole neighborhoods
turned inside out, colored brown
in wet dirt by a pillar of wind.
                 I lose track
of direction, don’t know which way is home.
A humid quiet hovers above the wasted ground.
                 The now-homeless rummage for scraps—a tea set,
a trusted guitar. Shock pulling them out of themselves,
                 until they too become debris.
They are remembering cows
where there are now
the sky before it broke
                 into a spear,
the old lab barking
where there used to be a door.
The vulture perches on a slab of wood, ignoring what still lives
                 in search of the freshly slain.
What am I to it
                                        but a few unlucky breaks away
from being a meal?