"Wild Turkey Cock, Hen, and Young" by John James Audubon, 1826
I watch them from my office window
pecking at pebbles on the blacktop,
pink heads, iridescent feathers,
stick legs moving with surprising grace.
Living in the woods behind the office
park, they tolerate our diurnal presence,
unmoved by creatures four times their size
invading in steel and glass.
Ben Franklin preferred them for our national
symbol, and they act as if they deserve no less.
How different would our nation be if we
had chosen these gentle grazers—who
nonetheless defend their nests—over
a bird who scours the earth for prey?
American though they are, these turkeys have
no allegiance. They only need a patch of earth
to scratch, a place to raise their pink young. And,
come to think of it, do any of us need more?
"Wild Turkeys" by Lawrence Kessenich from Before Whose Glory. © Future Cycle Press, 2013.