My father, lungs a-warble, spreads his arms on the nursing
      home bed,
swoops low over rough, unfamiliar terrain. The hospice nurse
      ticks off procedures.
My mother signs papers with her large, lush loops, so ravishing,
more ravishing than the chicken-scratch scrawl of my father’s
clubbed now, a long-lost claw—phylogenesis recapitulated, and
      ontogenesis, too.
Overhead, the geese tootle toward the marsh.
They’re rolling the old folks into the commons, lining them up
      before the TV.
I look out the window. The geese have landed,
foraging slowly on the manicured lawn, unruffled, for now,
by organochlorides and organophosphates and their
in the rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat blood of a bird. And 2 and 4 and 2 and
my father’s bent language its own looping code, laying an egg
      like a parrot,
and every so often an embarrassed embarrassed and every so
      often a dammit.
“Our relationship wasn’t exactly warm and fuzzy,” my mother
behind drugstore specs. They make her look owlish.
She isn’t owlish; she’s ravishing, more ravishing than ever she
back in the days when the couch was her tether and pills were
      her hood
and my father flew at her with razor blades lashed to his feet.
The hospice nurse ticks off further procedures.
The geese crop the grass; their idyll won’t last. The city, half-
is gunning for them, hatching a brood of lethal procedures
to rid itself of the soft, light bodies so hazardous to man in

Copyright © 2015 by Betsy Andrews. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 17, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.