Bio Note: After 23 years of teaching French at Franklin and Marshall College, I changed my focus to English, the only language in which I could hope to write poems. In recent years I have published several poetry collections, and begun to study painting. I live in New York City where I divide my energies between the verbal and the visual.
1. The newly widowed gander muses: “She was perfect.” “She was not!” his sister hisses as her mate nods, satisfied. “What do they know,” thinks the bird, and honks with grief. Geese, the silly geese, geese of Monogamy. “She was perfect,” moans the old man, years of squabbles, refusals, and terrible boiled dinners forgotten in favor of a wholly tender marriage. “She was not!” we’re thinking. What do we know? He shambles to the barn and sees the gander’s sister preen her husband’s breast. The single gander watches, sorrow massing in his underwing. He, who won’t go humping again. 2. She sulked and worked at being a wife. He sculpted in the barn. Mornings, a bantam hen laid an egg beside his chair. He studied charts and modeled animals on ghostly metal armatures. He ranted over the success of others—his doctor brother, rival sculptors. She shrank, and sulked, turned away, turned again, and sulked. Sulking fed the tumors in her bladder. She lay ill and told him something she had always wanted: a donkey. So he made one and hurried to the foundry to bring the present home before she slipped away. Afterward, he set it on the mantel. Its gentle patina surpassed the sheen of all the proud, bronze horses— those he never spoke to. “She was perfect,” he told the donkey, his fellow orphan.
Originally published in Cleopatra Haunts the Hudson, Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2007
©2021 Sarah White
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