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by Carole Bugge

I hear them before I see them
their thin, sharp cries keening the air
summoned south by shortening days
their wings beat the leaden winter sky
long necks stretched taut from their bulky brown bodies
as the wind whips the trees
battering grey bare branches with its weary fury

the harsh sound hangs in the air
oddly soothing, as if Nature herself had plucked the tears from my heart
to place in the throats of geese
like the hired mourners at funerals of old
how do they read the dying light of days
to take wing as the solstice closes in?
and how do I read your dying
to track your flight across the skies
you fly alone, with no flock to guide you

I sit on the snowy hillside watching through the woods
and imagine the geese have lifted you up
to that breathless height
heading southward, following the sun
and the warm, placid days you so loved

to a land with no more winter, no more dying
only endless bright days
this world just a pale echo
of the home you dreamed as you slept that deepest of sleeps
I shake the snow from my stiff limbs and wander homeward
above me, the geese cry and caw and keen
in wonder at the sacred center of things


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