1. Wild Turkeys
They make their way through grasses roughly blown by the breeze, their sights set on the field beyond, their feathers glowing amber and brown, smoothed down as if by fingers. There you are, birds. There, there. Don’t you fret. Their eyes say they want things, or maybe something more, maybe that they desire. But I only see them walk the walk of lost creatures, those dinosaur feet at the bottom of impossibly narrow legs, planted in the soil. They disappear into the bushes, taking their scissor-beaks to the brush.
The morning comes cool over the mountains, the treetops tipped with red, a prophecy of decay. Signs for Baptist churches cluster along the highway, pointing far down country roads lined by the sound of invisible birds. The sun rises, insisting that it stands for the beginning of the world, and I almost believe it, that it is the dawn of time, but all the while and all along the road, as I watch the light shift and spread, I think about what else it could mean, and then the sun is up, and it all looks terribly ordinary, just a world in light.
In front of the white house with the wrap-around porch, two enormous sunflowers sag. They can hardly be flowers, these things, for they are the size of men, their faces arched over under their own weight, such looming moons. They present these dried seed visages to the world, pocked and mottled rounds, things half-dead and ready to be taken in hands and eaten. Each nook is deep and dry, so dry that it can’t make anything of itself. Fall is an old man without a cane, and he wobbles and leans, and then he rights himself.
Susan Harlan is a professor at Wake Forest University, where she specializes in English Renaissance literature. Her essays have appeared in The Awl, Public Books, The Manifest-Station, Skirt!, The Toast, Artvehicle, Literary Mothers, and Smoke: A London Peculiar, and she has a monthly column for Nowhere magazine entitled “The Nostalgic Traveler.”