Watching Mallards

Watching Mallards

A twisted tree trunk is now sideways

On the edge of the rain-swollen Carmel River.

I, the bit player in this proceeding, stand on the other side,

Proclaiming no human could have better positioned this former tree

As a perch for two mallards.

The hen stretches her neck downward

To see what is underneath—the current inches from her bill.

The drake, unmoved by the fast moving waters, looks in my direction,

Do mallards always look calm?

I rejoice in the time I have taken

To observe this perfection,

My anxiety reduced to a flicker

Of black and white memories

From walking among Manhattan skyscrapers,

Where time was an expense

And my sighting of birds

Limited to pigeons on building ledges.

But now I’ve been given the luxury of this wondrous afternoon,

Unaware of how long I’ve been here,

Only now realizing we are all standing.

Do ducks really stand?

I do when waiting for a taxi.

With short legs and wide web feet,

They are certain to outlast me, if so desired.

They could jump in

And join the sea gulls riding the current

Until it empties into the ocean.

Looks like amusement park fun.

Are they waiting for me to make the first move?

I think they know I will leave first.

Or, maybe they don’t care.


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