Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: The Geese

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

May Sarton, one of Maine’s best-known poets, was adept at poetry in forms as well as free verse. In this week’s poem, using a three-beat line and haunting rhymes, she links the annual departure of geese to the losses and sorrows of women.

The Geese by May Sarton

The geese honked overhead.
I ran to catch the skein
To watch them as they fled
In a long wavering line.
I caught my breath, alone,
Abandoned like a lover
With winter at the bone
To see the geese go over.
It happens every year
And every year some woman
Haunted by loss and fear
Must take it as an omen,
Must shiver as she stands
Watching the wild geese go,
With sudden empty hands
Before the cruel snow.
Some woman every year
Must catch her breath and weep
With so much wildness near
At all she cannot keep.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1993, 1988, 1984, 1980, 1974 by May Sarton. Reprinted from “Collected Poems: 1930-1993,” by May Sarton, W.W. Norton & Company Press, by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.