Hudson’s Geese: Reprise

(For Leslie Norris)

By Tyler Chadwick

Day’s last reflections
catch on wind-swept ripples
as two geese throw shadows
across watered silence.
Embraced by echoes,
each circles the other.
Tracing this current,
I watch Hudson’s pair
venturing back
across the continent:
Her wings bear no scars
of hapless encounter
with fox or wolf or man;
his body carries
no hunter’s spray,
the lead that felled him
to the dogs. They bask
in this dusking plane,
watching the horizon
gather them, leaving
phantom indentations
in the eyes of those who
understood their love.


Tyler Chadwick is an academic refugee from Utah living in Idaho with his wife, their three daughters, and their Miniature Schnauzer, Bosley. He leapt into the Mormon blogging scene at A Motley Vision (his home away from home) when Theric Jepson’s post about Onan’s sin coaxed him to finally plant his rhetorical seed in the field of Mormon letters. His poetry has appeared in Metaphor, Dialogue, Irreantum, Salome Magazine, Black Rock & Sage, and on WIZ (here and here) and AMV (here and here) and many of his poems and his Mormon Poetry Project can be found on his personal blog. He enjoys chasing clouds and draws his natural philosophy from Whitman: €œYou air that serves me with breath to speak! / You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape! / You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers! / You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides! / I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me. €

“Hudson’s Geese: Reprise” was originally published in Irreantum: A Review of Mormon Literature and Film 8:1 (2006).   For Irreantum’s home page, go here.

If you would like to read  Leslie Norris’ poem “Hudson’s Geese,” go here.


2 thoughts on “Hudson’s Geese: Reprise”

  1. Tyler, thanks for submitting this delightful poem.

    I’ve always understood Leslie’s original not only to reflect a feeling for the bond between the geese but also as expression of Leslie’s own love for his wife, Kitty.

    Very interesting to me, the last part of your last line: “leaving / phantom indentations / in the eyes of those who / understood their love.”

    It gathers up geese, the Norrises, the environment of your own feeling, and everybody else who “understands.”

    Intriguing to me, these deeper worlds of love, where life might be seen differently, and where geese are perceived to be as participant as anybody.


  2. “I’ve always understood Leslie’s original not only to reflect a feeling for the bond between the geese but also as expression of Leslie’s own love for his wife, Kitty.”

    I first read the original in Bruce Hafen’s book, Covenant Hearts (Deseret Book, 2005), where he reads it this way: After describing a wedding ceremony he attended where intermittent birdsong reminded him “that certain kinds of birds mate for life,” he writes,

    The naturalist Hudson wrote of his adventures among the birds, documenting their habits—including their mating for life. Brigham Young University’s renowned Welsh poet, Leslie Norris, captured that instinct for permanence in “Hudson’s Geese” [Then he quotes the poem in its entirety and continues].

    “Nothing but his body?” Perhaps the two geese were soul mates—don’t let the dog have his soul too. Let their souls somehow be together, always, undisturbed by dogs—or wolves. Leslie Norris would see that. His wife, Kitty, has nourished the soul of his poetry through their lifelong conversation. Kitty was very sick recently, and in her afflictions Leslie was afflicted. I saw it in his eyes when he spoke of her. She is the point of his circling; he, the point of hers. (158-60)

    The poem and Hafen’s reading of it touched me so deeply that when I next saw geese touch down on a pond (where I’d been walking with my daughter), this reprise was born. Reprise, I think, because it carries on where Leslie left off, describing love and passion (for a mate, for language, for nature, for one’s readers) as they echo through the corridors of imagination and memory.

    Though I never had the chance to associate with Leslie Norris the man, Leslie Norris the poet, the indomitable wielder of words, has influenced me through the page. I tried to capture something of that influence, of my attempts to understand, here.


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