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Sky Gift


ISSUE:  Spring 1984
Daddy saw the single goose like
a great dark snowflake in the sky
on Christmas morning and ran for
his new self-loading Winchester.
The bird was out of range of shot.
He’d bought the rifle knowing war
was near and he should be ready.
This Canadian flapped so high
and out of season he said it
seemed a black star swimming against
the overcast. He leaned back in
his aim and led the mote target
hoping there was no upper wind.
It was impossible, and as
he touched the trigger knew he’d missed,
because there was no burst of feathers.
The goose kept rowing ahead, then
pitched sideways and began to slide
and spiral, flopping wild. It dropped
in a long clumsy spin that stretched
by the breeze beyond the house place
and shed and garden, past the barn
into the weeds beyond the now
empty hogpen. He ran through the
rot-sweet orchard and velveted
his pants with Spanish needles to
find the gander headless. A lifetime
hit. The wings stretched wide as he
stood, there in the bleached and thistle
frosty brush. They baked the sky-gift
with Christmas ham and Mama plucked
the down and pin feathers to fill
a little pillow soft as a breast
I slept on like a puff of
cumulus until three or four.

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