Ariel Gordon

Impromptu gosling

Mother’s day. We talk about
our vaccines like they’re newborns.
We stalk three mourning cloaks

into the trees & then, on the way out,
are waved down by old ladies

the driveway of a big house. It’s been crying,
they say, pointing to a gosling,
chirping like a phone,

attempting to run into weekend
traffic. Somehow, there are no adult
geese anywhere. Over the phone, the humane

society suggests containment
& same-day delivery
to a wildlife rehabber. We follow

the gold & brown bird
into the back yard & I throw
my denim shirt over it

like a butterfly net. A man emerges
from the glassy house
with three kids. We shout

greetings like we’re old friends, the gosling
weighing less than the idea
of property or protected

wildlife. But crying babies & alarm
systems all speak the same language:

HELP AHHHHHH so he forgives us
our trespasses. I keep my hot hand
cupped around the bird

on the drive
to the weekend emergency
veterinarian. It settles, one flippered foot up,

looking at me. I want to stroke
its downy side, but I don’t,
not knowing how many interventions

each of us can afford.
I want to issue a blanket apology
for all the bumps in the road, for the concrete

world we’ve built, but I don’t.
We wait for the sick pets
ahead of us in the sun-hot

parking lot to be seen to
before surrendering
the gosling like a long gun.

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