The Answer

By Joseph Hesch

Outside, early morning, mid-December
and the howling wind is strumming a
C-chord through the trees.
Even above that din, I hear
the familiar tones overhead.

There, moving in a diagonal,
like a sidewinder snaking south,
or a streamer of mercury sliding across
a wobbly zinc tabletop,
are half a hundred Canada geese.

And I shiver. Not because of the wind
and December’s cold, but because
the unspeaking natural world had
once again addressed a question
I hadn’t even known I was asking.

The question I couldn’t
speak or write is answered across
the December sky in that language
without words, the one that speaks
more truth than that of Man:
It’s never too late.

As I was working outside the other day, I heard in the distance something I used to not hear until it was just above my head (if at all). There, in ragged V winging south, was the first company of migrating Canada Geese I’d seen this Fall. I’m not sure why, but that incessant honking sound, some overlapping the others as if they were sound shadows, stirs some visceral response in me. I feel somehow energized and inspired. And so I was this time. Seeing them put me in mind of another group I had seen last year. I write about those travelers here.

32 thoughts on “The Answer

  1. it's never too late…got to love it when life answers our questions even when we fail to ask them…you paint a nice visual and some smooth word play through it as well…sidewinder snaking south….nice.

  2. Beautiful poem, Joe. There's just something so profound about them, like they remind us of something we've forgotten. Gives me the shivers every time. It's certainly never too late. Lovely. Thank you dear friend.

  3. Hi Joe,'Like a sidewinder snaking south' lovely descriptions here! I almost want to ask you what the question is… but then it feels too personally a thing to ask.It is never to late for some things that is for sure!Great poem 🙂

  4. They say that the changing magnetic field is throwing off something that has to do with entanglement in the optical navigation field of birds … flamingoes ending up in Siberia and all that. Even nature is challenged by nature: small hope for us, I guess, but we can ride on their tailfeathers. – Brendan

  5. Yes, there is something that grabs hold of us when we hear the geese flying in formation and making that announcement…of something. Never too late is good; guess we could all propose a meaning that would suit us. Thanks for this new perspective.

  6. I really love this. These are the moments that make up a life, guide you through.I live near a swamp, we get thousands of geese stopping by all at once, it sounds like a very raucous party some nights.But I always smile.

  7. This is the first poem I have read of yours, and I must say I'm glad i visited. I really enjoyed it..the experience sounds wonderful..and the ending, the meaning is lovely in its seeming simplicity, but actualised depth

  8. I absolutely love catching the geese leaving for the winter….. it's like an epiphany to me, echoing memories of another year honking southward. Sometimes I like to think that they are saying goodbye, but I know they're not. December does seem a bit late for them to start heading south, especially in your neck of the woods I should think. But like you said, it's never too late…… "mercury sliding across a wobbly zinc tabletop…" well written…..

  9. Joe, it never is too late, really like the third stanza a lot. And watching the birds flay above, geese would be great, just doing their thing, with someplace, anyplace but here in mind- I always like watching them as they pass overhead. Very nice write, thanks

  10. i loved the C- chord being played through the trees. made me wonder what the sound of the geese would be, but when they are high, you don't really hear them.there's something peaceful about your message, yet there seem to be many sounds associated with this too, explicit and implicit.

  11. A wonderfully inspired Autumn write for an Autumn day, clean, crisp, filled with the dignity of nature and the team work of which few humans are capable. I like the sliver of hope at the end in particular.

  12. I can just hear those geese honking overhead, flying their perennial path to where instinct, some long ago genetic formatting, calls them to be. This feels very introspective, especially the last line. A reminder for all.

  13. I used to see thousands of geese winging south along the Atlantic coast when I lived in Delaware, especially around Bombay Hook. I still love the sound. But "a streamer of mercury sliding acrossa wobbly zinc tabletop"stopped me, since it was far out of my experience. Where does THAT happen?

  14. Like this poem very much as it attempts to express the awe when noticing or observing things in nature simply being as it is, the way it moves, how it does things to schedule according to season — a wonder for some of us who struggle trying to just get by and be in joy of life. Thanks for this poem.

  15. okay, cool similelike a sidewinder snaking southand the philosophical intones:hat languagewithout words, the one that speaksmore truththis poem is packed with good stuff, dude. (in the language of East L.A.)love your poem. thanks.

  16. Love the depth of the migrating metaphor written simply and accessibly finding a conclusion that has been witnessed and felt as long as man has heard the geese's honking heralding their move and their new day. Beautiful.

  17. Here in Colorado, Joe, we are seeing this happen now each day as the geese come in briefly to stoke themselves on the corn left in the stalks. A poem you might really enjoy is Mary Oliver's The Swan– except for Yeats' The Wild Swans at Coole or however you spell it, I had never read a poem that conveyed flight, beauty and majesty, like that one. Lovely poem. xxj

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