Look at the emerald of their necks, two drakes propped each on one leg
on the wet grass and the fat brown hen squashed in a ball like doughy bread.
Their feathers long and neat, well-groomed as though about to be wed; there is that
awkwardness of wandering minds, I think. Thin rubbery legs pat the pissy grass
in the slow warm glow of afternoon haze, the fat-gut duck in the late buttery light
sits still by the crab-apple tree, motionless. These aren’t mother’s garden ornaments.
Duck: quack. There’s a third one.
I often went as a boy knobbly-kneed to feed the ducks with pieces of stale bread.
They were the king and queen and we the inane peasants with offerings.
Our beloved monarchy; to the ducks: your highness.
One thousand fields crossed lands flown over, landed in pitch and green-brown water
somewhere across county lines; it has rendered them unreal things. Garden ornaments.
I don’t believe in them as though god were everywhere like dust.
Flapping and yelling, my arms no wings; they wouldn’t move. I heard them quack again.
Look at them. See their green faces and the surprising blue speculum, their chests
pushed out as though to show they have a beating heart too. Nature had not blessed me
but pushed me aside. The next thing I knew they were gone.
I checked for eggs; maybe I could experience this again, but the light had gone.
A cool dusk flew over, their invisible shapes now cold wet memories:
green as grass, brown as soil, yellow shoehorn bill sending back funny wild sounds.
One of the dogs had its scent. It circled the garden, smelling the past.