To Be A Goose

One thing giving me a lot of joy lately is Virus Vigil, a collaboration between Jim Blackburn and Isabelle Chapman to provide a daily piece of bird art and poetry during the pandemic.

Jim is an environmental lawyer and professor at Rice University. A familiar figure in Houston as an expert on the Texas Gulf Coast, he’s known for his work on policy and planning. It wasn’t until the pandemic that I discovered he is also a prolific poet. 

Three things I love about Virus Vigil: 

  1. It’s about birds
  2. It’s a creative collaboration between friends
  3. Their daily commitment to create and show their art
Reincarnation, by Isabelle Chapman

In today’s Virus Vigil, “Day 146: Reincarnation,” Jim invites his readers to consider what lifeform we would like to become when we are reincarnated here on Earth.  As for me, I should like to come back as a Canadian Goose. 

Five Things to Look Forward to as a Canadian Goose: 

  1. Flying
  2. Migrating.  Migrating is a bird’s version of a pilgrimage. As a Canadian Goose, I will go farther north than I’ve ever dared to go. I will carry my blanket on my back and rely on the stopping fields for overnight hospitality and provisions. 
  3. Flying in V-formation. I love a goose parade.  I will fly over the people, moving specks on their roads and fields and porches. I will see them pause with a motion of their arm as they look up, and point at me and my gaggle. I will honk a little prayer, delighting at the way I meet their seasonal expectations. 
  4. Taking point on the V-formation. This will be my moment, to lead the gaggle from the front!  I will fly the hard flight.  I will blaze the trailwinds and find the path. All the geese will flank me, encourage me, trust me. I shall be the one they rely on!
  5. Falling into position. When I tire of the responsibility and the loneliness I will fall back into the V-line. I will be a follower, receiving and giving draft in equal measure.
Photo by Wendy Wei on


  1. I also love that if a goose is struggling, two other geese will drop back and stay with it until it can resume again. That’s a value of compassion and still allowing the group to carry on.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s