Poem by Herbert Nehrlich
I stopped right at the scene of tragedy.
She stood, head bowed, long neck, wings drooping,
and motionless until she saw my face.
Damn, it was obvious, he had been truly slaughtered,
gray feathers drifting in the morning breeze.
Some into bushes, others flying into sunlight.
She looked into my eyes with a profoundness,
a depth that I could only freeze in helpless awe.
And there was blood, so much red blood,
the body was so flat and changed, so strange,
no longer bore the features of a goose.
And all was silent. Birds were clearly absent,
or mourning one of theirs, though more a cousin.
High in the sky a jet of happy tourists
went on its ignorant and careless superjourney.
At last I left, with nausea and grievous shock, companions.
And it was midnight when I put up tired feet,
and leaning back in my recliner of cow leather
I stuffed a pillow snug behind my lower back.
And, yes it was, the label had instructions
for washing goose-down pillows in the home,
a wave of bitterness and nauseated hickups
stayed with my thoughts until the Sandman closed my eyes.
At dawn's first light, while listening to the stereo,
they saw me going down the road at a good clip.
I had to see her but I scolded my own face,
into the mirror, yelling 'have you lost your marbles? '
The sun was hot at noon, I saw her at the turn
and stopped some distance, feeling foolish and extreme,
she looked again but had no fire in her pupils,
just all the sadness that two eyes could ever know.
So, I sat down within a foot of Mrs. Goose,
not knowing what the blazes this would do for me,
we sat for many hours, undisturbed, in trance
when she said something, meant, I thought for my own ears.
Not understanding the strange language of a goose,
I felt replying was the proper thing to do,
so I confessed to her my overwhelming sorrow
and told her what a great white mate he must have been.
And that I hated that big brute of a mad driver
who broke her heart that morning on their short-cut home,
she did convey that he was guarding her safe crossing
and saved her feathers with no thought to his own life.
Then it got cold and Mrs. Goose inched a bit closer,
I felt her warmth and sensed her broken, beating heart,
though something stopped my willing hand from reaching over,
now I was thinking of logistics and of reason.
Tried to explain that there was nothing we could do,
her mate was gone and life would surely just go on,
and fully conscious of impractical scenarios
suggested that she travel home with me.
She nodded sadly but my efforts were in vain,
and all the nudging, and persuading and the coaxing
was met with silence once again, she would not leave.
This went all night but clever diplomatic skills
had no effect and then I tried to share my sandwich,
she would not eat the smallest morsel and I wondered
would she be willing to invite her own death here.
I got so tired and was questioning my mind,
perhaps I'd snapped from someone else's bird-brain-grief,
thus a tiny bit of altruistic anger
had started re-creating all my strategy.
Quickly I grabbed her, clamping feathers and both legs
then wrapped my leather jacket 'round the struggling bundle,
now in the car, doors closed and windows quickly raised,
just one brief look to see that she would be okay.
And I have never been confronted by a light
that burned so softly with such energy, deep down.
Inside those eyes, that had no lashes and no brows,
her tears beat mine by only bloody milliseconds.
'I understand', I said, 'I am so very sorry',
then went across to gather up her dead man's body,
had sat her on the seat and used for him the jacket.
He rode the long way home right next to Mrs. Goose.
She fell asleep somewhat, although he didn't know
and had one wing draped over him for added warmth.
Another Dawn had broken when we did the deed,
right near the barn and facing all the pretty roses
of our garden, is where Mr. Goose was buried.
And it was right she told me with her tearless eyes,
'cause he was home and so was she and so was I.
For many years it was Yolanda, as we named her
who brought such joy to me quite early every morning,
she'd come to greet me with a salad of goose words
and we would walk together, down to feed the cows.
And, while the chores for all my creatures took their time,
she'd stand right next to hubby's wooden cross in silence.
So deep in thought, and reminiscing, later chatty.
I never ever met a woman of such soul.
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