Poetry by Birch Dwyer
At Regency Lake the freeway roars
beyond the chain link fence, wind whipping plastic bags
through its metal maze. It’s so peaceful here,
Mom says. I love the calm water.
Styrofoam cups bobble in algae as wind
ruffles the wide lake. We tick our way forward
along the walkway, that cane Dad painted for her
marking our time. I answer her questions again
and again: Where are you living now?
Your husband does what for a living?
Even with dementia she is still the queen
demanding answers and I her subject, her cane
a scepter stamped into the sidewalk, my eyes
hard-set on water. Its ripples conspire
with light. Soon we will reach
that curve with the overflowing trash can
and the goose on her nest of sticks and plastic spoons.
She will look up at us as if we make one false move
she will lunge and bite, the long black curve
of her neck coiled against her white body.
I will make cooing noises at her as we pass,
offer thanks for her hard, dark eyes.
Mom will say again Oh the sweet mommy goose,
nestled with her babies,
as she leans hard on my hand,
and I feel the length of my own dark neck
emerging from muscled shoulders.
Birch Dwyer is a writer and workshop facilitator living in Portland, Oregon. She currently leads Poetic Medicine circles through Portland Women Writers and for Transition Projects. Her writing has been published in Clackamas Literary Review and Windfall. Birch makes her home with her husband and son and two dogs, one who likes to be rolled in a blanket like a burrito and the other who lies on the couch fully exposed, like an open-faced sandwich.