AFTER THE SOLAN GEESE
To think you slender necked majestic birds, mythical white,
were worn as shoes. Split open at the seam and tender female feet
urged in to keep the damp and mud at bay; slippers of a sort.
The only plunge you made a final one into the thud of earth
not the dive of arrows into the sea your sharp beaks
once made, a weapon for the abundant fish.
The sky so thick with gannet you resemble white ash
not birds that rise above the rock and fog.
Coupling pairs with yellow-crested heads dusted with pigment,
a solid crown, your skulls resistant to impact from impossible heights.
The only way to catch is from above. The fish are all your bounty here,
herring swallowed by the beak-full, under water.
Sea-bound boats bob and flail in winds too fierce
for any fisherman’s hook or line.
So they net you instead. From horsehair ropes bound with
the lining of sheep gut to keep from splitting off.
Men suspend themselves and poach you from your sea stack nests
dangle from cliff faces, their only implement a long stick
with a noose at the end to scoop you by the neck and snap it there
above the depths.
The goose-neck footwear only lasts four days, if that, then
tossed aside to sink into the ground, skin and carcass as mulch for crops.
From Leaving the Island (Signal Edition, 2015) by Talya Rubin.