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Original artwork by Katie M. Zeigler

How to Cook the Goose

AN Grace

The river was wild in its ways. On good days it spewed through jagged rocks, licking at the banks that contained it like an unruly dog jumping for the top of a locked gate. On bad days it escaped, bringing alarm or relief to creatures great and small.

On one of the good days, Darragh crossed the bridge by foot, a dried ham tucked tightly under his arm.

He was handsome and nervous and his gait betrayed the walk of a man too eager to reach his destination.

Aoife seemed to open the door and cross her arms in one swift action, as if she’d never moved at all and had always been cast in stone.

She was handsome and watertight and her face betrayed that which she wanted.

“It’s a sin to covet your neighbour’s wife,” she said like a machine gun.

“Liam’s been gone five years now,” he said, holding out the ham. “And I covet no one but the good Lord.”

She shut the door. He walked back across the bridge.

He cut it in thick slabs and smothered it in mustard until his nostrils were streaming.

A month later he returned with the goose.

“Leave it on the step,” she shouted from the window, her hair pulled as tight as a military parade.

The next day he spotted her approaching, pot in hand.

It was oily and sinewy and lacked seasoning. He would have roasted the bird with parsley and thyme, maybe some sage. But it was a fine meal for sure.

Two weeks later, it was a bad day. The river was everything. He hurried while he still could.

Over her kitchen table they held onto each other, tugged and torn this way and that, no goose or ham or good Lord in sight. “Bloody river,” she said.  As it overcame them, she squeezed his hand, and he squeezed hers. Good days and bad days, he thought, as had always been the way.