HAIRSHIRT   In mid-winter, the Conservatory is a space whose damp green, whose broken sunlight could be rented by the hour. People enter in parkas, sigh, then impatiently strip off coat, hat, scarf. They bask privately at the base of stunted palms, wipe vapour from the lenses of their glasses, cheeks pink. Avid. And my hair, long & static-y in our living room, is complacent snakes here, next to pots of forced daffodils, hyacinths, and irises. I lean back on a bench, clutch my tea & breathe. I spy a succulent a few feet off. A green thumb I need to test with my fingernail. But my hair catches on a screw on the bench & a ringlet of hair is yanked from my scalp: Fuuuck! February garland. * * * Back home, furnace droning we notice again how the house throws tumours: my hair, wound around dust bunnies, loose threads, anything we aren’t sure of. Maybe the house is a sloppy renovator. Sands off a layer of plaster every day & just leaves it. 
Maybe it considers itself a collector of spider legs, pollen & mummified Cheerios. We find its installations along the baseboards. In corners. We fish them out of the lint catcher, fingernails snagging on fleecy bits of ourselves. * * * Mid-afternoon. I have stolen a half-hour in the fattening sunlight next to the bed. I rustle pages, sink into the barbs of my feather pillow as my partner retrieves a formaldehyde rat of my hair from the bathtub drain with only the mildest disdain. February party favour. Later, he smirks when I pull a wad of hair from the cavernous armpits of my coat, his hand reaching up to stroke his reassuring baldness, the solid bones of his head. As we leave the house, moving through the elm-streaked middle distance, I gleefully remember: he sometimes finds my hair tatting together the holes in his underwear. * * * Testify! We are MADE of energy! Anima. But also: a few dollars’ worth of electrolytes in a shallow tub of water. A means to an organ-transplant end. I like to think my foggy lungs are analogous to abandoned wasp nests, that we’re all flies on a windowsill, peering through clouds & clouds, a clotted sky of the softest dust. But we’re nothing if not the debris we make, shed & swallow. Mittens at the curb, umbrellas drying in corners. Broken hairbrushes.     GOOSE EGG   Late spring. There is still snow everywhere as hundreds of geese kite in & skid all over the lakes. (Once they’ve landed, their body language is clear: What the fuuuuuuck?) Two geese stand on the hill behind us & shout at the pair on the pond, 
neighbours in the middle of a favourite argument. They’re after the primo nesting box. Every year, the two males stalk & prowl & batter at each other, but they’re easily avoided, their bowlfuls of big white eggs still weeks off. We veer right & promptly sink up to our hips. The snow has the same texture as windows in movies after someone has been thrown through. Which is to say: sweetly granular. The only safe step is on man-made structures, our rubber boots slipping on water-damaged memorial plaques. My daughter slips into the lake slowly, the snow there a third duckweed & a third goose poop. Behind her, a grizzled duck box full of frozen duds, down & sawdust rests daintily on the snow. We walk a loop over the icy path, 
following the flippery prints of geese & everyone else who walked here this winter: cheerful dowagers, men in enormous boots, families on borrowed snowshoes heading for the deepest snow. She fills her boot & insists we stop, perching on the wooden slats of a bench. I yank & yank 
& heave, disgorging a small wet foot & enough slush for a sweating comet before her foot is wedged 
inside again. The geese intrude on the smallest privacy—her eyes on mine as I pulled, her cold foot resting in my palm—brokering real estate deals at the top of their goddamn lungs. The commission’s always the same: 
a goose egg.    
  Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg writer. Her second collection of poetry, Stowaways, was recently nominated for the 2015 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry/Prix Lansdowne de poésie. When not being bookish, Ariel likes tromping through the woods and taking macro photographs of mushrooms.