Dream journal: the vulture

I’m carrying a sick vulture in a box. It weighs almost nothing. I’m worried it might vomit — what unspeakable things might come up? — but I tell myself that vomiting is something turkey vultures only do when they’re well, to cool down their legs in the summer. I stroke its black feathers, tell it everything’s all right, even though we both know that isn’t true.

I carry it into a natural history museum and it comes alive, half-opening its wings and trying to climb out of the box at the sight of so many dead stuffed animals. But the PA system comes on to announce they’re closing soon and I push the vulture back down, folding its wings like an origami crane.

Outside, we run into a two-headed mob shouting at itself. The only thing they all seem to agree on is that Trump is due to make an appearance at any moment. But he doesn’t. I sit down on the steps, unable to join the protestors in their hey-hoing at the supporters because of the vulture, who looks bored at this demonstration of health and vitality in the body politic. We hunker down.

Hours pass, and the crowd’s chanting comes and goes like surf. The vulture closes its eyes in two stages: first the nictitating membranes like fogged-up windows, then the eyelids proper like shutters. I try not to think of the lice that co-evolved with its species, its body their whole planet. Parasites! The only creatures more ignoble than eaters of carrion. If only we hadn’t evolved as scavengers ourselves. If only we could have a true predator’s implacable heart.

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