like this morning, when the wild geese came squawking,
flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek
across the sky made me think about my life, the places
of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief
has strung me out to dry. And then the geese come calling,
the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place.
Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold
for a brief while, then lose it all each November.
Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst
weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves
come April, come May. The geese glide over the cornfields,
land on the pond with its sedges and reeds.
You do not have to be wise. Even a goose knows how to find
shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks.
All we do is pass through here, the best way we can.
They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again.
I am often drawn to the work of this poet, something about her quiet way of speaking about the ordinary world, bringing it to my attention. Even the title captures that sudden sense of being called out of myself to something else, like the wild geese, flapping their rusty hinges. This, she says, makes her think about her life, the places / of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief / has strung me out to dry. We all have these places and unexpected moments that bring them to mind.
The way the geese take turns as the leader tires gives her a sense of hope borne on wings. And the trees, how they turn gold in the autumn then lose it all in November, then stand through the bitter cold of winter until spring when they put out shy green leaves. She finds hope in these noisy creatures, representing that optimistic expectation that the world will continue, even when things don’t go exactly as planned. Seasons change and the geese glide over the cornfields, returning each year as they do.
You do not have to be wise, she reminds us, just pay attention. Be aware, the way even a goose knows how to find / shelter, to find late winter corn for nourishment. All we do is pass through here, much the way the geese pass overhead, briefly here then gone. They stitch up the sky, such a magical image, until it is whole again. When we are startled out of ourselves, we can remember that we are just passing through, the best way we can, a simple wisdom.