This poem was written outside the fishbowl sessions. It was inspired by a comment from rix_scaedu pinpointing one of the main themes of the series, under the poem "Wild Hearts Can't Be Spoken." It has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette. Read about turkey vultures and Uriel. You can find the other poems in the Fledgling Grace series via the Serial Poetry page.
The servants of Uriel are quiet folk,
for the Angel of Death has no need
of trumpets or fanfare.
They move discreetly in their dark suits
and people step aside for them.
Like Uriel, they are the ones
who stand guard between life and death,
who deal in repentance and forgiveness,
who listen to deathbed confessions
and confer the last rites,
who attend to the bodies of the dead.
They are priests and undertakers,
thanatologists and grief counselors,
people who serve in a dozen silent ways.
They are not surprised
when the Fledging brings them
the solemn black wings of the turkey vulture
with the hidden silver lining of the pinions.
They know that Uriel does not have
the shining white wings
that artists often paint on every angel,
nor the brilliant colors that the more discerning
may assign to the archangels.
They know who walks beside the dying,
who soars above the departing souls,
who guides them each and all
through the valley of the shadow
so that nobody -- not one of God's creatures --
should ever have to die alone.
For the Angel of Death will always find them,
as the vultures always find the dying in the desert,
will always come on broad black wings
and with his cool shadow blot out the burning of the sun.
They know who has given them their wings,
these wings, his wings,
and it may have been by God's leave
but it was Uriel's doing.
Now the servants of death
have black wings to go with their black cloth,
vast wings to cast a comforting shade
or wrap around weeping shoulders,
pinions with silver linings as a reminder of grace.
When they think of flight,
they do not think of fluffy clouds and blue skies
but of hot dry air and open desert around
the valley of the shadow of death.
There are always souls in the valley, and
there are always vultures aloft to keep watch over them,
for the passage is difficult -- even with company --
and the only way out is through.