I’m the silliest fowl? The highlight of my life your Christmas feast?
Before you cook me, think. When long ago Celts invaded Rome,
who gave the alarm of their nighttime sneak attack on the citadel?
The sentinels? The watchdogs? No, Juno’s sacred geese it was,
spared despite famine. Their cackling woke a sleeping soldiery.
And what bird did wily Aphrodite choose to mount for her flights?
The trim goddess rides me side-saddle in a drinking cup with a pair
of handles for a two-fisted wine bibber. In the tondo—the circle at
the bottom. Head tilted back to empty the cup, you can’t miss us.
A strawberry blonde. Love charm in one hand, flower in the other,
destined no doubt for a vase on Olympus. A red shawl. And me,
beak forward, wings spread, legs tucked under my tail for speed.
Sandals on her perfect, pagan feet. Oh, for those days when no
carols cluttered the crisp winter air and none talked of laying golden
eggs or of a squat mother with rhymes to soothe a restless child!
Poem by Joe Smith
Illustration by Honoria Starbuck