My father carried corn oil into dusk:
the translucent plastic like a lantern
held aloft, the yard pared down
immaculate—and overrun somehow
with a wild stamina. The light
was just ending. The geese were out,
feeding on the seeded grass. They lunged
the narrow slick of their bills
into the loam, weeded stalks
unmindful of the space between them,
the whites of their chinstraps
impellent, unrehearsed, in rhythm to collective
hunger and inner-directed. Larger
than each bird alone I watched my father:
his stooped shadow, his flannel untucked
like a lake spilling over its banks. He moved
outside their periphery until he was nothing more
than pine, a mere familiar. Then I watched him
unscrew the cap and pour oil onto cloth,
lower into a nest of moss and feathers,
into a clutch of eggs I couldn't see
but knew was there.
The geese continued to eat.
The eggs absorbed the oil.
I tried to pick out the mother
while my father asphyxiated embryos,
his head turned towards the gaggle in humane
say-so. I wanted to feel her bristle.
He said she'd be misled into believing
the eggs would develop. That not knowing,
she would tend to them the same.