Human Imprint


The baby vulture, captured, imagined me as I was: mother, lover, rival. Call it an existential crisis. The nest I’d found out prowling the woods should never have fallen, but it nearly fell into my arms. A real mother hovered upwards, rocked on the thin air above the river. Call it a moral quandary if you must, but just think about it first: the very first thing effective at love she saw, yes, was me. Think positive psychology. All this vulture could learn about nurture I taught her: how to laugh like a drunk in the afternoons, how to touch softly the back of a neck. And nature: that jealousy is rage, but rage like passion dies down. Once, set free, she rebuffed the hospitable air. Call her scatterbrained, purblind. I named her Angeline, and Angeline limped back to my doorstep and pecked at my backdoor glass. When I shot her, her neck writhed like a rattlesnake alive in the grass.

HASTINGS HENSEL is the author of a chapbook, Control Burn, and his poetry appears in Cave Wall, 32 Poems, The Greensboro Review, and Birmingham Poetry Review. He is the recipient of the 2014 South Carolina Arts Commission Fellowship in Poetry, and he lives in Murrells Inlet, SC.