National Park

We saw a lot more of them dead than alive
the living diffident by the side of the road
as the far-off mountains flanked and intoxicated
the speedometer into saunter
 
The dead were interspersed on the asphalt
their poor vision uncorrected by their auditory keenness
like a blind spot in a poet
 
and their fender-mangled corpses
were occasionally ripped in two
before vultures reached them
 
In our rental van
we left no mother bereft
and orphaned no piglets
 
Turkey buzzards and American vultures
were the javelinas’ gift to us
 
red and black scavengers
that perched on ranchland fences
the full span of highway
they’d circle above in diminishing downward spirals
 
or flinch at each other’s puffs and swells
or away from incoming vehicles
 
Still they shared the dead among them
as we sometimes share our dead
when we love our dead
 
Javelina the Arabic word for mountain
in its root and then the mountain
coming closer to an ear
became a spear

Source: PoetryNow (Fady Joudah, "National Park." Copyright © 2017 by Fady Joudah. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network., 2017)
More Poems by Fady Joudah