Look Up

I have been stalked by wild geese.  They fly above me every year as I grow.  The V moving as a perfect organism of function and consciousness, pushing the air from above down on me.  They inhabit the place in between, like the performances of butoh dancers, letting space move their bodies.  The symmetry of their flight follows lines that become fluid, rounded, and organic.  Their lives are a constant state of return.  Are they ever leaving or just living in a way that follows a circle rather than a linear progression?  These birds move above me and feel the familiar places in their genetics, or possibly, their souls.  Their refuge is found in movement of their place, not in the place itself. They remind me migration is inherent.

At three years old, I would watch their shadows appear across the large porch of my house and quickly run to see them land in the field of our property.  I would notice that some flocks did not stop in, but flew right over, seemingly focused on another destination.  I wanted them all to stop and devised a plan. I dressed my constant playmate, Scotty, in my father’s hunting camouflage, complete with utility vest and orange safety cap, while I found the goose calls and strung them around my neck.  Well equipped, we headed out to the field.  I ordered Scotty to start flapping his arms and to “be a goose” while I did the same thing, blowing as loudly as I could on the goose call.  There was stillness when I ran out of breath and Scotty’s arms began to tire out, but then a faint sound of honking, gradually intensifying and moving closer.  I started to blow the call again and Scotty’s arms began flapping wildly as the geese began swooping in.  They were surrounding us and so close I could reach out and touch a feather tip.  When I looked up, all I could see was the dark brown of their wings’ undersides, just a few feet from the top of my head.  It was chaotic, loud, and confusing but only scary for a moment.  As soon as they seemed to settle, they began to take off, one by one, the V circling until every member was accounted for.  Scotty and I waved goodbye to the birds and skipped back to the house through a path of feathers and goose shit.

These geese have found me as I moved from place to place.  Huddling in groups on the tundra of the Alaskan interior, surprising me on red cliffs of Arizona deserts, and welcoming me home in the Midwest.  We followed each other toward the coast of Oregon and Washington, and have they have sun bathed with me in the Gulf of Mexico.  I like to imagine they see me, a little dot on the ground, moving slowly and they will feel the need to call to me with encouraging honks.  When I do not hear them, I seek their company.

They have now found us here.  Q tells me last night “I love sleeping with the windows open because I can hear the night noises, like the geese honking.  Listen tonight, mom.  They are so loud.”  I have heard them the last three nights, as well as watched them fly silhouetted against the twilight.  There are outrunning the cold weather and reminding me we are always home.

2 responses to “Look Up

  1. “There’s a river of birds in migration, a nation of women with wings.” – sacred chant

    “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.” – from “Wild Geese”, Mary Oliver

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