That last October, summer delayed her going,
held time enchanted, even while sun slipped southward,
kept birches green, blackberries on the vine,
one perfect rose to dazzle our bedroom window,
drove back the rain, allowed no cloud in her kingdom.
Then the wild geese curved over,
with a shrill of wings and deep-bell cries,
inscribing a magic triangle on the blank sky.
We could not read the sign — but summer fled,
birches slid into autumn, yellow as pumpkins,
reddening bushes dropped their dry berries dustward,
the perfect rose came perfectly apart,
tossing its petals into a spiraling wind.
One night the rain came, singing and jubilant,
and we curled into each other and slept, not knowing
the sign of the wild geese was upon us, too,
and this was our last October to be together.
LoVerne Brown (1912–2000) lived much of her life in sparsely peopled places — the Aleutian Islands, her grandparents’ homestead in Wisconsin, and in lumber camps and iron-mine company towns along the Brule River in Upper Michigan. In Juneau, she worked as a reporter and later, in Seldovia, she and her husband published a weekly newspaper, The Westward Alaskan. She taught creative writing for the V.A. at Fresno Junior College and for the community school system in San Diego, where she spent the last decades of her life. “Wild Geese” is from her collection The View from the End of the Pier, published by Gorilla Press. It is reprinted by permission.