by Suzanne Nielsen

Geese were about yesterday for within two miles
I’d counted 17, a group of 8 flying in an almost uniformed V
a group of five flying in a row, four more following behind
at different speeds. One in the road flattened
with its wing perched up toward the sky.

Later that evening I am standing in line outside
a theatre thinking about smoking when a student I’d
had in a writing class approaches me. I hadn’t seen her
in many years. Names don’t always come to me, but if I think back
to what someone has written I can usually recall the name,
such was the case.
I asked if she was still writing.
I told her she looked happy.
She told me two weeks earlier she’d had surgery.
Her partner needed a kidney and hers matched perfectly.
Two weeks ago? I said. And look at you, who would know.
Our eyes locked, and for a brief moment I saw in the reflection of her
eyeglasses my new haircut, in the shape of a kidney.

You saved your partner’s life, I said, drifting back to the street
back into the evening chill and the hum of the traffic.
Oh, no, she said. He saved mine when he encouraged me to write.
Off she walked, but as I watched I saw her wings spread and take flight.

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