The Turkeys


The turkeys woke me this morning. They roam our Boston neighborhood in a gaggle, like a gang of delinquent teenagers. They are unafraid; defiant even as they strut across the sidewalk daring pedestrians to cross their paths. I’ve witnessed them charging the oblivious passerby, their brown wings extended, red wattles flapping and eyes narrowed. This morning, they are just outside my window.

When I lived in Franklin, MA a lifetime ago, the turkeys hung out on a rural back road next to a restaurant called “Ma Glockner’s,” an establishment famous for their chicken dinners served with a fresh cinnamon bun. It opened on Maple Street in 1937 on Thanksgiving Day, serving the domesticated big breasted, white, dumbed down brethren of the wild turkeys.

The land surrounding the restaurant could have been lifted from the pages of Watership Down; sun-dappled stones walls, birch leaves alternating green and silver as they shudder in the cool breeze and rabbit warrens burrowed among the twigs and russet colored leaves of the forest floor.  

I used to pass the turkeys of Maple Street on my morning and evening commute. I was mostly unaware of the beauty surrounding me. But every once in a while, one of those damned birds would run along the side of the road, hook a left and attempt to become airborne. Their lumbering bodies would tumble mere inches over the hood of my car, more like an awkward long jump across the road than a graceful bird taking flight. Startled, I’d pull my car into the parking lot of Ma Glockners and wait for a minute while my heart stopped pounding.

I sat there once, listening to Al Green on the radio singing “Love and Happiness.” The tune so sweet it made me tear up. A strip of clouds blushed orange in the western sky. Squirrels chattered in the Oak trees, turkeys huddled. I wanted a love that would make me do right and make me do wrong. Next life, I thought.

But here I am.

Each morning, I check the balance of my 401(K). I calculate the years until retirement. I glance at Facebook. I wait for an email from my agent. Perhaps he worked out a deal at two AM with a publisher and sent me a contract. It could happen. I re-read the same essay I have been working on for two months. I delete a comma and then I put it back. I look to see if any of the publications have accepted my submissions.  


How easily we fall into a routine. But this morning the turkeys gathered outside of my window and sang me a song. Gobble, gobble, gobble—“Wake up mother-fucker.”


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