Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Grey Geese

Grey Geese

The long forgotten party
spilled out on the snow
away from the day's work, 
away from the houses,
and every winter journey
started there, where three women walked.

The first day was for cooking,
and the cleaning up after cooking.
The second day was for eating,
and the cleaning up after eating,
but the third belonged to the women
and they chose the frozen pond.

Just the three of them, leaving
behind the children tired but playing, 
the menfolk fed full and playing
with whiskey and cards in the back room.
They came to skate
but they meant to fly.

One was practical; she would always work
hard on the ice, skirts heavy, soon damp,
using her legs, pulling herself along
brow furrowed and bent to the purpose,
to make herself fly like the geese
who migrate because they have to.

The second woman was preening.
She piled her hair high, picked her fancy hat 
and her striped coat to twirl for the watchers.
Full of smiles for the performance,
she skated with show but precision, like
the geese form up in line.

The third woman was caged. She
came to skate out of her world.
She knew the ice was perfect, she knew her circles
and figure eights were the meaning
and pattern in things, like the geese know
how the sky leads away from winter.

The long forgotten party;
three women grey in the distance,
united in a vee    far out on the ice
         smiling and flying
away from the work, away from the houses.
Every winter journey started there.

January 2011
Posted for Magpie Tales #49

Photograph by Tess Kincaid, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License


  1. Oh, Witchy, this is beautiful. I love the title. You always have your own unique take on things, that no one else does.

    Want to know something? i looked and looked and could NOT figure out what they were holding. All I was seeing was the long edges of the skate blades, so I thought they were holding incredibly long 1910 drinking straws or something. Then i read your poem about choosing the ice and there they are, plain as anything, ice skates. Now my poem doesn't fit the picture! Oh well, worse things happen at sea.

    I love the difference in the way each woman approaches her skate. I could so see the first one concentrating, the second one wanting to llook nice, and the third one wanting to step out of her life and feel free for a few moments.

    It's so good, gal. You're a joy to read. (no pun intended!)

  2. Beautiful how you used the movement of geese in the winter to describe the skills of the skating ladies.

  3. @FB Many thanks--the reason I knew what they were holding is I routinely have to enlarge all the pictures I look at, and especially the magpie prompt ones, to see what they really are--all I saw initially was silver lines--I'm going--knives??? REally?...So I cheated on that.

  4. This is a wonderful read. Love the three women and their differing personalities, and how you have tied each in with the geese. And the line "the geese know how the sky leads away from winter" is one of the best lines ever. You write so wonderfully.

  5. A lovely tale of women getting away from it all. Nice Magpie.

  6. You tell their story so well, setting down the domestic details with quiet precision and weaving in the metaphor of the geese subtly and to telling effect. A keeper, definitely!

  7. You knocked this one as well out of the park. Well told flight to freedom knowing they would return in their own season.

  8. I love your geese metaphor. Very nice poem.

  9. A escape like that is not seen everyday!
    Oh my great imagery here
    Loved it

  10. i kinda think i'm a bit of all three, and they are pretty special!

    excellent magging!

  11. "They came to skate but they meant to fly". Pure magic.

  12. A wonderful allusion to nature to characterize their aspirations.

  13. I loved the personalities you painted here, hedgewitch...

  14. very very cool... although these women had different approaches to fly you get the sense that they were still birds of a feather. Lives so similar and demanding at home but flew together to be free.

    lots of 3s going on here too....hmmmm

  15. that they have found their ritual and their freedom...each enjoying it as they please...

  16. WOW!! That is freaking AWESOME. Read and loved every word of this.

    I am the third skater, oh yes. So VERY yes!!

    What an imagination on you. Bravo!


  17. Great write! Also appreciate you posting Auden, a favorite. Nice to re-read his words again.

  18. The 'V formation' conjoured wonderful pictures - excellent!

  19. How delightful! "They came to skate but meant to fly." You've tapped into the longing for freedom and escape that seeps deep into women's bones. Perhaps my favorite line is "the geese know how the sky leads away from winter." You've made me feel these three, see them, forming a vee, "smiling and flying," headed for adventure. Just lovely!

  20. Many many thanks all. Always good to get the feedback, and to read so many interesting and excellent poems on the prompt , as well.

    @AM--thank you much.Glad to see you stopping by. Greatly admire your own work.

  21. 'They came to skate/But they meant to fly'

    That is so lovely and moving. It really speaks to me.

  22. I enjoyed your interpretation very much. :)

  23. How your words have taken flight... forming the v... wonderfully done. You have created such stunning images, the concentration on the brow of the first, the elegant lines of the second... and well, pure freedom, joy within the eyes of the third. So well expressed!

  24. Love this story and how you've spun it into gold. They gain dimension and dignity from your words.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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