60: coma, canto 15

in Henry’s truck
we crossed the boundary
of the city, which is near
impossible to figure,
crossed a small space
of road and entered
under an archway sign
that said: The Meadows
which is neither meadow
nor not meadow
but acres upon acres
of daffodil, rose, phlox,
apple and peach tree,
and more such trees,
salvia and vinca
and peony and cone flower,
red, purple, catstripe,
banana, dawn sun,
and western sunset
color smears
on lawns cut with strait
cut lanes, geometrically perfect,
and domes of green houses
and low porched and trellised
deck spaces for the sipping
of local wines and the wheaty wares
of brew pubs.

from a chair I watched
a woman whose name
was Imelda carry flower flats
from a ground bed
to a roughwood stall;
half-way from the gathering
to the placing, a goose
with a black face
and black flippers
and two dots on the back
of its neck would waddle
in and bite at the backs
of Imelda’s legs. Imelda,
with her flower flats,
would kick with strange orange
plastic shoes the goose away,
lay her flowers amidst the other
flowers where periodically
a fast cloud of cold steam
would spit a watering water.
I watched Imelda, her
black hair in a long rope
against her spine, go back to the bed,
say something to the goose,
who cocked its face, listening,
and Imelda would hip up
another tray of flowers,
and the goose with the black face
and the black eyes
and the floppity feet
would wapple
and bite at the backs of Imelda’s
legs and Imelda would kick
at the goose and the goose
would wopple to his
place of waiting and wait
and again bite again
and be kicked again,
and would wait and bite
and wait and bite
and listen to the words
of warning Imelda gave him
as if he were trying learn
something or teach something,
grim, treasonous, or portentous.

I sipped my beer, then a wine,
and watched Imelda and Imelda’s
goose work their way through
the morning, and when done,
she swiped her hands,
sat on a chair under a heating sun
and the goose moved to the chair
with a new movement, slower,
with that loamy patience geese
step on with their steppy webs
and stood beside Imelda
and fell asleep.

once I read a story about the art
of being good, a story
about what happens,
about what’s said,
not about what might be
or explanation or what meaning
should come. It can leave the reader
stunned, to watch a goose
fall asleep in the heating sun.

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