The Last Goose

There is a house I drive by when I go to town that is a monument to unfinished business, its only outward changes over twenty years being the slow-but-sure degeneration of the insulating paper wrapped around the walls, and the geese in the yard.

When I first counted the birds, years ago, there were seven, six of the plump white variety accented by a lone two-tone brown individual, and whenever I passed they were invariably in excited motion—like shoppers who’d just discovered an unbelievable bargain.

There were days when none of the geese were apparent, no doubt having other spots to investigate on that acreage or simply napping at the back of the house, purely an assumption as I’ve never seen it and can only imagine. But these geese did seem deserving of a back porch.

As I returned home late one afternoon the geese were splashing and honking boisterously in a roadside ditch, which gleamed with rainwater after a week of storms. I slowed as the last two waddled slowly across the pavement to their impromptu pool. With my attentions on the birds I almost failed to notice a car that had come up at a too-fast speed and was pulling out to pass me. It was my turn to honk, then, and maneuver slightly to the left, and the driver did get my point though I don’t believe she ever saw the pedestrians.

It wasn’t long after that encounter, though, when a gnarled pile of white feathers appeared by the ditch and marked where one bird’s luck had finally run out. As I went to town less frequently goose sightings diminished too, but when they were around I noticed their ever-dwindling numbers. Even the brown goose disappeared, taken by a coyote—this was told to me by the owner of a nearby feed store, who happens to live across the road from the goose house.

And now only one remains, and I wonder what she remembers, and if geese, too, get the blues.

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