Poem Breaks My Heart

By Lem Ward Crisfeld, M.D.

A hunter shot at a flock of geese
That flew within his reach.
Two were stopped in their rapid flight
And fell on the sandy beach.

The male bird lay at the water’s edge
And just before he died
He faintly called to his wounded mate
And she dragged herself to his side.

She bent her head and crooned to him
In a way distressed and wild
Caressing her one and only mate
As a mother would her child

Then covering him with her broken wing
And gasping with failing breath
She laid her head against his breast
A feeble honk… then death.

This story is true though crudely told;
I was the man in this case.
I stood knee deep in snow and cold
And the hot tears burned my face.

I buried the birds in the sand where they lay
Wrapped in my hunting coat
And I threw my gun and belt in the bay
When I crossed in the open boat.

Hunters will call me a right poor sport
And laugh at the thing I did.
But something broke in my heart that day
And shoot again? God forbid!

Given the nature of this poem, I trust the author won’t mind me sharing it.

This poem was printed in an Ann Landers column; I’ve kept it for years and still cry whenever I read it.  Canada geese are beautiful, loyal birds.  They could teach us a few things about commitment!


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