The snow geese descend,
leaning back, it seems, against the pond,
as they land,
wings out—for drag? For balance?
I never think about flying
in the way creatures with wings do.
The mechanics, I mean. In my dreams,
it seems Sisyphean. To the west,
Manhattan is a vacant, glinting, line of teeth.
No one is in sight
so I pull my mask aside
to smell the brine
of the bay. To the side
of the path, prickly pear
and their withered purple fruit
lay flat to the ground,
waiting out these months
of loneliness. I miss the glossy ibis
who, long done breeding,
have returned to Belize.
But they made way
for the snow geese,
these creatures of fairy tale,
here in the hundreds, filling
the air with horns. I envy them
their flock, their airborne skeins,
the raucous sound that fills their bodies
and this body and the body of West Pond.
All the way home, I hear
their echo. Empty trains pass
overhead and a few lone airplanes;
in the noise I hear thousands of flapping wings.

Emily Hockaday (she/her) is the author of Naming the Ghost (Cornerstone Press 2022) and the forthcoming In a Body (Harbor Editions). She lives in Queens where she writes about city ecology, parenthood, chronic illness, and general existential angst. She can be found at and tweeting @E_Hockaday.