It’s perhaps the projected gravity of early starlight
Or the denseness of Wisconsin’s air itself
That keeps the cars on track, coming back
In racing formation, their chassis moments apart.
A dozen geese drop through the grinding engines’
Whine to wait in the field across the way,
Their teardrop masks white in the dusk.
I watch them from the bar’s small window,
Their patience with the angry drag of racers
A quarter mile away. Racing fans wear earplugs,
The roar is so loud. Some migrate to this bar
Before the races’ end and spend the cooling evening
Drowning out the ringing in their ears; I listen to them
Trading tales of how drivers who die in crashes die,
Of the good dog (nod to the figures on the distant lawn)
An uncle or neighbor trained to chase off geese,
To crush their eggs and leave the nests gooey,
As a single gaggle can kill a hayfield with its voracity
And its excrement. The birds in question learned;
They quickly moved to the next lake over
In a circular migration, like all migration.
The fans and drivers come back and come
Back around while the geese stay put. Something
About the warming of midwestern winters,
About exhaust. The seasons’ cycle no longer freezes
The lakes and marshes thickly. More and more winter here.
We quickly grow accustomed to the new
Climatic range, the climactic change of temperature
No longer an issue. And who here isn’t looking for order,
Whether in these couplets, the weather, horsepower,
Or the comfort of the same bed nightly? The geese, for instance,
And their larger circle of migration predate us
While we predate as no other predators do: we consume
The ground around our prey and reorder paths that were.
Now, as the track’s lights punch off one by one,
The birds close their loop of concentric rings and land
In the track’s infield, dropping out of formation
To curl their obsidian necks about them,
And use the remembered noise of asphalt on rubber,
The grind of gears, to warn off simpler enemies.
Jeremy Gregersen’s poetry has appeared in a variety of journals both online and in print, including Cimarron Review, Potomac Review, Poet Lore, and Juked. Born and raised in Idaho, he is a graduate of the Universities of Utah (BA), Michigan (MFA), and Oregon (MA). He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife and son, and is Head of School at The Meadows School, a pre-K through 12 college prep school.