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Lake Galena


With all the garish honking, I expected

to see “just married” signs and a tawdry string

of tin cans dragging noisily from the tail

feathers — Canada Geese dropping out of the blue

into a small wind-blown breech of open

water, like a pothole in a parking lot,

a designated space marked, “visitors”

in the northwest corner of the frozen lake.

Spreading primary feathers, each

arches its broad wings, tips pointing

roundly downward toward the target

as if preparing to hug a barrel,

flapping — four, five, huge, slow waves

to gather the resistance of wind before

touching down, adding its own

disturbance to an already choppy surface.

Despite daily practice and all of nature’s

instincts refined by generations, some still miss

the mark, back-peddling over the rough gray ice

on wide, webbed feet before skidding to a stop.

Like a far-off scratch, above the clawing

treetops, the pairs practice ritual formations,

little more than a dotted line on a pale blue

envelope. As if you could fold on the dotted

line and tear it open along its perforation.

And if you did open all that honking,

if you could see into the feathered chest,

would you find inside the secret of monogamy,

how these geese manage to mate for life,

though they sound more like a parking lot

full of teens tooting car-horns after a game?

At the far corner, a Great Blue Heron

wades alone, a few yards off shore,

at the very edge of the open water,

as far as possible, which isn’t far

at all, from the yowling crowd.

Head hunkered down, neck folded

into his shoulders, legs fully immersed,

tail tilting into the lake, a few feathers

ruffled by the wind, he watches

for an overdue meal, or maybe just watches

me watching him: two newly single men

at a party full of couples, trying to grab

a little food, make their excuses, and get out.

Previously published in Dogwood, Fairfield University.

David Mook grew up in Yardley and lived in the New Hope area most of his adult life before retiring to Vermont. The Delaware River, Tohickon Creek, and Lake Galena all evoke fond memories and are the settings for many of his poems.

Poet’s Corner is curated by Bucks County Poet Laureate Emeritus Tom Mallouk and supported by a grant to the Bucks County Herald Foundation made possible by Marv and Dee Ann Woodall.

To submit a poem for consideration, email it to If the poem has been previously published, please say where it first appeared.

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