Flying goose

Two Poems by Craig van Rooyen

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It’s still February, too early to be jonesing
for the north, but there’s one goose without a V

this morning, voice breaking like a 12-year-old boy’s,
his awkward neck emo-bobbing to an earnest beat.

All that desperate flapping purpose.
Just how does he stay up there? As if

after memorizing the map of longing,
he no longer gives a damn about physics.

I remember the day in the stands, a book of
clouds in my lap and my brother rounding third

to come home. When the dads rose to cheer
their promising offspring, I became fugitive,

boy-squatter in a forest of knees. How long
since you sat with your back to the gym wall,

your face bathed in shards flung from a spinning,
mirrored planet while others danced?

How long since you pined for a northern lake
you’ve never seen? The one where each

wind-whipped purling wavelet bids you: fly.



Jacob’s Ladder

There was the night with the angels, then
the rest of his life when a ladder was just

a ladder, the one he leaned against the house
to clean the gutters and trim the ivy.

This was not without its consolation.
You probably haven’t read of the day

he surprised the finches, how they exploded
from the hidden nest beneath the eaves

and how three eggs the color of yesterday’s sky
made him hold his breath as if to stop the arrival

of tomorrow. Nowhere is it written of the time
he strung the beer garden lights then lay

on his back smoking and squinting to blur
the braided wires into constellations.

These are the moments of a man’s life
that add up to a man’s life and are recorded

no where of importance. I alone write
of these things in disappearing ink

made from the crushed scales of moth wings.
You have heard of the boy who left

and did not return; how the old man tore
his clothes and pulled out his beard in grief. Now I,

whose own daughter with her dreams of many colors
has gone away to her life, tell you how he lived

every day thereafter, placing the ladder
against the house, climbing into the ivy to finger

the mud-daubed nest where the runes of loss
are writ in straw and the scraps of eggshells.




Craig van RooyenCraig van Rooyen’s poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, New Ohio Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. He is a past winner of the Rattle Poetry Prize, and received his MFA from Pacific University.

Header photo by TheOtherKev, courtesy Pixabay. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.