North to South

by Susanna Lang

Above the Expressway
The sky is littered with birds, dark, disorganized,

hard to identify. Pigeons or starlings.
The pigeons have a favorite billboard on South Kedzie Avenue,
an ad for telecommunications in seasonal orange
and Spanish, foil for their grays.  They can be bred
to hone in on the earth’s magnetic fields, like those
dropped into Holland with the rest of the First Airborne Division
during the Second World War, awarded
the Croix de Guerre in the First: an onionskin of intelligence
strapped to one leg, drawn home by the magnetism
of who needed to know, to see behind, to penetrate the defenses.


Further south on Kedzie, a hundred geese wait in an athletic field—
they’ll know what they’ve waited for when it arrives.


Exiting the Expressway

At this end of the city, yesterday’s rain
must have lasted through the night.
The streets glisten, storm sewers overflow the curbs.


An old man and an old woman walk hand in hand,
stepping around the puddles.


Pigeons dry out on the high tension wires.                                                         


The geese have forgotten how to leave
but they still get restless after Columbus Day,
flying low through the fog to find their direction.
All morning they trumpet their intentions
but by afternoon they’ll have settled at the park lagoon,


South Kedzie Avenue

Downtown, geese stroll with tourists through the rose garden,
where the last blooms are lingering into November.


Drive south on Kedzie, a man stands in Marquette Park,
his golf clubs useless.  Geese
have taken over the green, he can’t make his shot.


Then right on 71st, where geese have congregated on the playground.
Children gather in front of the school, hoods pulled over their heads,
hands tucked into their sleeves, hugging their bodies’ warmth and waiting.
They will wait just as patiently in the afternoon
for the doors to re-open and release them into the bright cold
where the geese, not knowing where else to take themselves,
have spent their entire day.