We fly the same V for weeks, know
our destination without words and sail,
driven by a force north to calmer waters.
It is almost instinctual, the way we settle
on the lake, wingtips ripple, wait for summer.
But nesting takes its toll, days stretch out as long
as summer shadows. Our hatchlings are a handful,
so stressed, endure nine weeks of molting,
flight feathers plucked just to grow them again.
We are grounded these first days, exhausted –
hiss at threatening predators, each other,
broaden our wing spans to show our power.
Now that they’re strong enough to fly,
we migrate from the only nest they’ve known,
feel that same pull south. Wind shifts
in fitful gusts, why must this tension reign,
unpredictable? The currents turn, certainty
drifts away. Our flock edges the horizon,
uneven. I thought I knew how we moved,
how best to battle each season. Life-long mate,
please do not desert me. The V will tighten,
lean, ascend out of this turbulence. I will follow
your lead, watch for signs of fatigue, take your place
at the head for a time so you can breathe.