1. Geese

From the recording Just War

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"Geese," by Leigh Herrick. Performed by Leigh Herrick.



There they go the geese there they go
back to warmth before snow falls endlessly
from where it seems to come along the edges of
gloom-broken skies that at the height of morning
would make any mother cry who knows
exactly how the sound of joy of sorrow falls
on the same tremulous note even as they go
those geese even as they are sudden
a seeming torrent that does not blind or sting
as will the silent bursts yet to come—
It’s enough to make her cry
to see them so freely so full of grace glide
beyond her window’s awkward space
from where they go those geese
though a woman thinks of Laos thinks of Ho Chih Minh
though a woman has a hoe and thinks of pauvre Amsterdam
of Somalia Sierra Leone Afghanistan
while leaning far from home into her sink to watch
and think of gardening
and of a city’s central lot whose plot of soil provides
where so much else has failed
like a bud in spring
fallen from its tree
having been so long so close to promise
to opening
to watch
and think
how each day passed
how incense burned as prayers flew up
for those now flown away
while still they go those geese
up up up
from the chilling lake and the quickening slant
of the late-day sun—
Up over rooftops and trees
Up in one great slow show of lift
Of riding on all that remains for them
between each suspending flap
that turns them out
on air