Poetry

Barnacle Goose Ballad

BY


Winner of the 2012 Walrus Poetry Prize Readers’ Choice Award

Barnacle geese enjoy Nordic palatals,
stone relief fish beds and aberrant gulls.
When shellfish submerge and wash up riding buoys,
the geese fly one lap, plunge into fjord, ease

back their black neckties and splurge.
Barnacle geese sing hymns to their children
then push them off cliffs to see if they live.
No trust falls. No terranean birds.

Barnacle geese sing hymns to their children
then teach them the words. We’d call this stoic:
ask Goose Dad for insects and have your pick,
but ask about sex and he’ll make you eat fins.

I saw it last Christmas: Mom gutting the bird,
bailing fistfuls of pebbles and sand from its craw.
She took out its windpipe and voice box intact
and blew out a goose call the neighbours all heard.

Goose heads on platters with poppy seed loaf.
Goose born of driftwood in barnacled reeds.
Goose on the cliff with sisters and brothers.
A few on the ledge, a few in the water.

Bardia Sinaee (@unclePoetry) is the assistant editor at the Literary Review of Canada.

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