Out of the haar, in flight,
in formation, in position, each eye
on the white rump in front, each aware
of the white bar on a face away to the side.
Direct, speedy – the flock is two waving lines
passing between mountains, over salt water,
following the coast, a creamy shoreline
broadening on to marshes, tidal islands
until – ahead and below – something familiar,
another flock resting on a sand bar.
Down they go.
Down, level with the hills.
Down, level with the road.
Down, level with the shore.
Skimming over water the lead bird
working hardest, the wind from his wings lifting
the following bird, then the next until
they are all floating on air broken by the birds in front.
They lift to cross an island. Come down again
on the other side. Up ahead, white-barred heads
turn on long necks. Take care! Take care!
crying from the bar, and from the air the flight
calls back, We’re here! We’re here! The sky
between sand bar and flight filled with voice.
Take care! We’re here! Take care! We’re here!
Spreading their wings, turning them downwards,
they stretch out webbed feet. Everthing now,
every part of them, is catching the air,
slowing them, dropping them.
Take care! Take care!
In they come as though they must scatter
the geese on the sand like marbles, but now
their dropped wings lift them and bring them
down again, slower now, one after the other,
feet planing across the water, all together
to sit down on it, glide along the surface and paddle out
onto the sand, to become a feathery conference
of webs, wings, necks and beaks, all crying together.
We’re here! We’re here!