Mama Goose


We had four geese, and then
two of the geese appeared with their own brood,
yellow balls of fluffy feathers, downy
and bright against the green grass.
My son forgot to mow, and so
the goslings ate like kings in our backyard.
I watched from my window,
held the gaze of Mama Goose,
built her trust until she allowed me
to step outside and watch her family graze,
no glass between our bodies.

Just across the pond,
in a neighbor’s yard, I spotted
the other set of geese, and that mama
sat on a nest, never leaving.
It rained. It got cold. It turned hot.
Mama sat. Daddy stood at attention.
No one dared go near, but I checked daily
to wonder at that mama on her mound,
so proud and sure and safe,
guarded by her mate, surrounded
by water.

My goslings faded from yellow to dark grey,
and they ceased to play
in my yard. I had to settle for seeing them
across the cul de sac, waddling,
awkward and adolescent,
completely unafraid. Mama honked
and flapped and wagged
her head at them, and I nodded my empathy.
“Teenagers,” I said to her.

I watched out for babies and for eggs.
We mamas need to stick together.

But one day, the nest was unattended.
From a distance, I thought I saw two eggs,
maybe just shells, hard to tell.
No goose warmed the roost. No daddy
paced nearby. I was alarmed,
but maybe they hatched. Maybe I would see them soon,
snipping grass with little beaks,
prancing across the asphalt, unafraid.
These geese know they own
our neighborhood.

Something happened, a dog or maybe
one of the coyotes I read about.
They’ve been spotted in the area, and
when I see my geese now, there are three.
Three grown up geese and the four
teenage mutant ninja geese, practicing
how to use their wings.
My backyard pair has taken in the stray.
Widow or widower, I can’t be sure,
but the bird is alone, mateless,
and I’ve never so badly wanted to hug
a goose.