John Hazard: “What Gander Knows”


After winter, before spring, the shore’s
surviving, upright pines and maples
are backdrop for a single leaning birch,
ghostly white hypotenuse that wrinkles

and wobbles in the lake, which interprets
everything. Gander sees his reflection there,
brown as the curve of his big brown back
trimmed in black and cream.

His long neck is a question mark
though the hook of his head holds confident eyes,
which see a bounty in the water’s mirror—
clouds, brush, self, brood, and the plenty below.

He thinks he’s been nominated for something,
and he’s glad to know the rippling trees and he
are fellow souls, though the animal in him
fouls the paths he swaggers through.

Already the sky’s forgotten him, his clan, the loud
scar they cut across the blue just minutes ago.
Their honking bluster is quiet now. Gravity
has briefly tamed the ragged arrow of geese,

shrunk them all to makers of a bubbly wake.
A triangle flows from their rumps, as they follow
high-headed Gander’s steady line, their
answer barge, easing across the muddy lake.

John Hazard has taught at the University of Memphis and, more recently, at the Cranbrook Schools and Oakland University in suburban Detroit. His poetry has appeared widely in magazines, including Ploughshares, Poetry, Shenandoah, Slate, Gettysburg Review, Ascent, and Carolina Quarterly. His 2015 book of poems is Naming a Stranger (Aldrich Press).

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