Goose Bumps
by Ellaraine Lockie

The two Easter goslings grew
Too wild for an unfenced garden
in a town with cars and truck traffic
Too big for their wire cage
Where they stayed
when I couldn’t stand guard

I heard on the radio
how full-grown geese
would give back that safeguarding
Would protect their people and their place
But that place wasn’t meant to be mine

Because my uncle bundled the geese
in the back of his pick-up
Said he’d keep them for me
out on the farm
Would keep their names too
Audie Murphy and Gene Autry
(Our town just got a movie theater)

Said he’d fatten them up
Then he smiled at my dad
There was something not right
about that smile
The same smile confusing his face
at Thanksgiving on the farm
While we sat around the table
that served roast goose instead of turkey

Be a big girl they all said
A little ranch woman already at eight
My first dose of real ranch-life medicine
I didn’t swallow it
Nor Audie and Gene
I didn’t forgive my uncle either
each time he told the story all those years
Wearing that smirky smile

When the uncle’s love-of-his-life
second wife died
I held his hand, played cards
Drove him places
He told the geese story
This time he didn’t smile
And I hadn’t become that ranch wife

PHOTO: The author with her pet bunny Thumper (1953).


Ellaraine Lockie is a widely published and awarded author of poetry, nonfiction books and essays. Her eleventh chapbook, Where the Meadowlark Sings, won the 2014 Encircle Publication’s Chapbook Contest. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh. She is currently judging the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contests for Winning Writers.