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—


Henrietta Goodman’s first book of poetry, Take What You Want, was published in 2007 by Alice James Books as winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award. Her poems have recently appeared in Cimarron Review, New Orleans Review, and Willow Springs, and she has work forthcoming in Field. She lives in Missoula, Montana, where she works as associate director of the University of Montana’s Writing Center.

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