Each feather might as well be a sword against the night. Its feet, black, black and webbed, cover an acre or more. Seven heads, atop seven sinewy necks, eyes turned in every direction.
Each head stands for, stands in for, prefigures or recalls something, some bit of anserine lore.
Head the first; the oldest head. In the first flight; always in the lead. The skein rests upon its broad back, those wings big as churches. Second head, red and sharp, blooded in battle. Bones shatter, skin breaks; we are sailing off to war. Third, for watchfulness. An eye in every direction; half eat while half stand guard. Four, for instinct. Nestbuilding, pathfinding, egglaying. It breeds itself fertile. New geese to replace the old. Five, for death. For age, and birdshot, and dreadful hunger. Time has clouded five’s eye.
Six, for prophecy.
Seven, for hunger. For eating, for growth. For the strength of all against all else. All work: all are idle. They neither spin nor reap, but the goose god provides.