Henrietta Goodman


When he rows out to collect the geese,

they see him floating like an unexpected god,

oval hull weathered gray, oars treading

the dark water. They see him coming,

a boy barely more than retriever

of wing-shot bodies, see how he snatches them

from the scum of ice and wrings them

like he’s turning the crank of a machine,

so hard sometimes the neck snaps, 

then winds to a thread, then severs,

body flung back into the water, head

and black beak dripping in his hand.


When he rows out to collect the geese,

he thinks, like any god, this is just

what you do. They see him coming and dive

if they can, and swim, stroking in slow

motion, water rolling over their wings—

and him in the boat, and them knowing

he’ll catch them and him knowing they know—