Geese Crossing the Turnpike
I do not climb into the animal mind. I do not willingly place my hand against their long necks and touch their white feathers as I do this page. It has just begun to snow, those first heavy flakes. When I look up, it is not to see my forgotten lover’s face through a small line of pedestrian geese. I thought I had forgotten their determination, their sharp instinctive stroll across the Jersey Pike. I thought I had placed them back into their meadow, above the glassy, Canadian lake: that mother and her young where we would never meet, before we met in the road. She took her bullfighter’s pose, one wing already broken by a Subaru. The Mercedes to our left wove toward us while we looped behind the driver’s careful conversation with the air under the whistling brakes of a Peterbilt. We all slid through like water over stones. Yet we knew they could not last. So what good was it that we had passed? That we had survived all that we had been taught, to live one moment more? One thing does not mean another. No one lays down a life like a snowflake on the tongue. At eighty miles per hour, geese are pages filled with our lives in love: plot-less stories that did not last. No wonder they are no good to us now. Yet, on any frigid given night I can feel along the summit of my knuckles a pressure of her fingers digging in, and I think we might have died with those geese in the stillborn past, and that our bodies, when we feel them at all, are being touched only by someone’s memory of them, some misplaced desire moving the frosted cells together again. Finally we are given one thing: the bone-white intelligence of snow. How it awakens us after falling secretly the night before. Finally we inhabit these winter cities. And as the ice creeps in, we clap it from our coats, to restore the not unpleasant death of our longing.