Poems by Diane Guarnieri

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Unto the Heavens these Canada Geese

(Branta Canadensis)

by Diane Guarnieri

From Canary Fall 2017

Diane lives and writes poetry in Philadelphia in the Tookany-Tacony/Frankford Creek watershed. She delights in watching the return each winter of Dark-eyed Juncos to her garden and, during walks at work, the visitation of various flocks of Canada geese.

For years while passing through a field,
I watched different flocks of Canada geese
intermittently stop to rest from long migratory

flights, whereby reverently bowing the reach
of black beaks tugging at clumps of grass, often they’d
drink appreciatively from a reforming puddle.

Their webbed crisscrossing footprints
like fading fossils left imprints on my mind
holy as the presence of unseen angels.

Yet today while walking, a close-knit flock
in their nasal-tonal tribal Anserini language
honk a loud and urgent responsorial.

One goose to each of the others in the flock -
a loud honk and honk response / honk and honk response
as I stood muddled by this mystical ritual.

Relations of the Anatidae family of swans
their graceful black necks attentively raised
as if they were listening or looking
for something I could not hear or see -

Their choral leader’s croaking honk
of fog-horn urgency drew me in,
much the way a cat’s cry mimics an infant’s.

As if there is a universal cry of distress
in every language for every living creature,
and these geese soldiers stood guard

inside this landing party’s circling, constantly
responding to their tribe leader’s trembling
and agitated honk -

then like an apparition appearing from out of the heavens –
outstretched wings arriving - these two late comers – squawking loudly –
guided by the sounds of those unceasing calls

unto the heavens from lower ground,
as hang-gliders dropping
their long-legged landing gear –

release of webbed feet touching down
straight into the mist and I believe
each one’s black-beak-peck

onto another waiting goose,
a sacred kind of kiss between them
as if lost lovers reunited.

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