Denver Colorado * December 2015
© Vernon Miles Kerr
Early winter. From my lakeside apartment in Denver, I never tire of watching the thousands of transient Canada Geese come and go each day outside my window. As the sun fades, the lake begins to fill with uncountable flocks of these children of North America. Their chatty honking never ceases, even as the sky begins to lighten in the East. What, to a human, would be an annoyance is to them, a comfort. By the ebb and flow of conversation each guest of the lake can tell all is well, or perhaps, by a commotion, something is amiss.
Come daylight, the incessant din occasionally intensifies, a clue that a departure is in the works. At this point, the geese are together, floating but pointing in random directions, socializing or daydreaming. Then, definable groups begin to coalesce, drawing in; and soon, all start pointing in the direction of the wind. Soon, a hundred or more individuals will all be pointing windward, as one goose flaps his wings, folds them up and wiggles his tail. That seems to be answered by another flapper somewhere else in the peloton: then another and another. Then the volume of piping chatter doubles, and suddenly, the entire group starts their takeoff “roll.” Two or three beats of the tail against the water and they’re all airborne. Immediately–within 3 to 5 feet of the water, they start forming their iconic “V” formations. If you’re close, the thunderous flapping of all those wings surprises you. The din of chatter never ceases, just gets further and further and further away.
The Wild Goose
© 2015 Vernon Miles Kerr
He’s all business:
Guarding, grazing, chatting, leading the V.
No squirrely play; there’s an order to his day.
She’s all about eggs:
Laying, incubating, leading a queue of downy chicks;
They float: as effortlessly on air as on water.
When tied to Earth they are mortal, bickering, defecating creatures.
But when, with two or three slaps of their tails
They rise above the pond and form up,
They are gods.
What callous soul wouldn’t thrill at the sight
Of the smooth aerodynamics
And the thunder of hundreds of wings
Flailing as one.