The Invitations Overheard

The Invitations Overhead // Stephen Dobyns

At the edge of a golf course, a man watches
geese land on a pond, the bottom of which
is spotted with white golf balls. It is October
and the geese pause in their long flight.

Honking and flapping at one another, they seem
to discuss their travels and the man thinks
how the world must look when viewed from above:
villages and cornfields, the autumn trees.

The man wonders how his own house must look
seen from the sky: the grass he has cut
a thousand times, the border of white flowers,
the house where he walks from room to room,

his children gone, his wife with her own life.
Although he knows the geese’s honkings are only
crude warnings and greetings, the man also
imagines they tell the histories of the people

they travel over, their loneliness, the lives
of those who can’t change their places, who
each year grow more isolated and desperate.
Is this what quickens his breathing when at night

the distant honking seems mixed with the light
of distant stars? Follow us, follow us, they call,
as if life could be made better by departure,
or if he were still young enough to think it so.

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