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My dear Loose Goose,
I know you pride yourself
on flexibility, but as a friend
I feel obliged to say that if you feel
the need to gyrate, torque and twist
into positions you can only hold a
moment in an effort to elongate attention
of a person who’s continuously leaving,
as I have learned so well, you’ll miss
the fresh arrival of the one who’s
crossed an ocean with a rose
between her sonnets and the
poster of a festival she
wants you to attend.


Touché, precious Henny,
and likewise. If the only words
you hear from me are someday,
dear, and soon, you’d be a fool
and not the witty kind for hanging
round and hoping, for the having and
the holding are a now, or they are not.

And the constant putting off of someone
whose affections would be better off
without you is a hosing in the face
that blinds and is unkind. I know
that you are kind. Your humble
and obedient, etc. etc.,


How often have I wished
to wring your neck. Do not
err, I pray, so greatly as to think
me kind, nor flatter me with insults of a
loyalty that fell from sitting for so long
outside your coop to a gritting of the
teeth, foot tapping, furtive glances
at the clock.

These days, serene, I watch the courts
of simpering and sighs around us grow,
the platitudes, the dippy wimpy hearts,
and yearn to take a scythe to them
like sturdy Russian peasant stock
or like a Zapotec. Hold on—

Finis! My fields, well turned, are clear
to grow sophisticated maize, and when
the crop is high, I’ll harvest and grind
fine the grains to bake a mighty loaf.

Make no mistake, dear Goose, though you
have taught me much of being loose, the time
arrives in haste for me to break this holy bread,
and only he who stands beside me now, eats.

© Elaine Stirling, 2013

Early edition book cover of The Little Red Hen
may be found at members.iinet.net.au