Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2020  Vol. 19 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Picnic, with Geese

When I try to feel how the pain must feel in your body,
when I try to position it in my mind until it migrates

into my bones, when I try to do this, it is that I wish
to be forgiven for the element of joy that it’s you,

not me. I pack us lunch. I drive us to the lake.
When you say you hardly register the pain anymore,

I take that as the kind of music your mind provides,
a song played so often it’s absorbed, the way

the years have been absorbed by time until they’ve
turned into this park, full of geese. So fat and happy,

when they manage to forget Canada! They keep
their heads down, mostly, grazing. They’re like that,

they mate for life, they hang with their flock.
All they want is a good life, stable family, enough

to eat, right? I want/you want. After a while, want
starts sounding like honk. Geese honk like they’re

swallowing, a sucking-in sound, strangled by the white
strap at their throats. No one gets everything

they want. That’s the truth. Not to say there aren’t
compensations. When they fly, they honk as if they’re

ratcheting their throats with air. They’re magnificent,
shameless, tearing the air to shreds to get through.  

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