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Canada Wake, by Katharine A. Russell.
We landed on the big bay today,
At the mouth of the deep river,
near the dense, welcoming stand of shore grass.
Meeting old friends
Many of our kind no longer migrate
At our news, gray necks questioned the sky.
After what happened, she may stay behind.
He was in the lead of the other flock,
a big formation, a strenuous position,
he often took it, in every weather, flew sure.
What remained of their group joined ours.
Look how she rides =he tidal churnings,
listless amid the grazing and urgent honking,
lifts her head only=at the call of a gander who sounds like him.
I mourn the loss of so many,
but to lose a mate =s pain as strong as the gale wind.
Some, in time, choose another partner .
And to watch her grown and mated children
go before her. I knew that deep furrow of loss,
but my babes were food for foxes, not silver birds.
The blood knows, terror rips the night.
Perhaps if she had not witnessed his end?
Everything happened so fast;
then nothing remain=d but feathers on the water.
Our cries rose as one soul, one imperiled tribe.
We could not stay.
We did not know wha= else they would do to
The scene misted beneath our wings. Ignored, on high, we trumpeted our grief.
The urgency of our journey took over.
South, our ranks decimated, we flew.
We arranged ourselves anew, assumed our primordial vee.
We comfort her, in our way.
We rest beside her,=preen an errant shaft of down,
entwine necks for a=moment, pressed together by the current.
Our wakes unite, a rushing tide of mourning.
She will stay here.
She has good memories of feeding on abundance
with him and their young ones in other winters.
Our eternal coursing, honored by her witness.
Yes, that is what she must do.
Never fly north aga=n, never see that river.
Find a new mate who does not want to lead the flock.
Stay. Safe as a gossing under the wing,
Safe from the rigors of the passage.
The long flight. The rivers of uncertainty.
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