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Watching Wild Turkeys from an East-Facing Window
Barbara Quick


The turkeys, unskilled at flight,
gather before the iron gate,
attracted by the rising sun
on the other side, the tender green
of grass shot through with light.

They hesitate, not knowing
how to breach the great divide—
ungainly birds, evolved to run across life’s stage
on chicken feet, like anxious ballerinas
fretting about their weight.

And yet one rises up, defying gravity—
balances with outstretched, backlit wings
for a moment or two on iron points,
then takes the plunge through empty air
to the meadow where the grass looks greener.

One at a time and sometimes two by two,
the other turkeys follow—
leaping, stretching, landing
and scurrying away
like a chorus of swans in white tulle,

Till the whole flock has crossed over and run away,
and all that’s left is the gate bedecked with dew.


© by Barbara Quick.
Used with the author’s permission.




Barbara Quick is a novelist, journalist and poet. The author of seven books, her newly assembled poetry collection, Fanny Mendelssohn Catches a Glimpse of the Future, was a semi-finalist for this year's Washington Prize and her novel, Vivaldi's Virgins (HarperCollins, 2007), has been translated into 15 languages. Barbara lives on a small farm in Sonoma County, California with her husband, a vigneron and violist for the San Francisco Symphony. An avid dancer, runner and student of yoga, Barbara divides her time between writing and tending to her edible gardens. Learn more about her at




Post New Comment:
Lori Levy:
Love the comparison to "anxious ballerinas."
Posted 11/22/2016 11:55 PM
Posted 11/22/2016 09:37 PM
I really like this Barbara. It is one of the few poems I've read that convey compassion for, of all things, Turkeys? So well-done. Michael
Posted 11/22/2016 11:22 AM
Another aspect of nature brought forth into poetry. Brava!
Posted 11/22/2016 10:04 AM
Delightful--humming tune from "Swan Lake," and I know the turkeys would be pleased!
Posted 11/22/2016 09:13 AM
Larry Schug:
We've just had ten wild turkeys in our yard, too. Indeed, a bird worthy of poetry (as all birds are)and you've captured the picture well with words.
Posted 11/22/2016 08:04 AM
I love the sight of wild turkeys in both reality and poetry.
Posted 11/22/2016 07:46 AM
Gilbert Allen:
Yes, the poem is a visual delight.
Posted 11/22/2016 07:45 AM
What a picture that painted,
Posted 11/22/2016 06:04 AM
Great simile.
Posted 11/22/2016 03:54 AM

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