The Duck- a fable
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
I was walking down the street, preoccupied,
when I noticed a duck in a cage by the path.
I stopped, baffled.
The duck completely filled the cage,
its body up against the sides, feathers bent and protruding,
its beak stuck between the upper cage bars.
The door of the cage was no more than a few inches wide.
How could this be?
I approached the duck,
who was now peering at me, its gaze intense.
I knelt down and searched the cage for a latch or secret opening.
There was none; It was completely sealed.
The duck looked at me with a questioning stare.
I looked back at it with my mouth open,
I looked around but there was no-one about;
I was alone with this caged duck.
Suddenly it dropped from its standing position,
and sat, releasing its beak and able to move its head.
It puffed up, shook a little and settled.
‘You know, your cage is no different from mine,’ it said.
‘It’s just that you can see mine.’
I edged back, unwilling to believe that a duck just spoke.
I looked around again, thinking that this was some joke.
But I was alone, just me and a caged duck.
‘It’s a bit tight, but you get used to it, ’ the duck followed.
‘But... but how can you talk?’ I asked, still sceptical.
‘Not much else I can do stuck in here.’
I was dumbfounded, didn’t know what to say.
‘Look, we all surround ourselves with cages,
some more limiting than others.
This one’s snug, but it beats the alternative.’
‘What alternative?’ I asked.
Oh, hell! I’d be hiding too,’ I replied.
‘What makes you think you’re not...hiding that is?’
’Human’s hide from everything, fear everything.
At least I have a good reason.’
‘But I’m not sitting in a cage by a path?’ I reasoned.
‘Yes you are,’ said the duck.
‘Have you noticed there are no people around?’
I took a quick look. ‘So?’
‘There are people everywhere,’ said the duck.
I looked again and the paths were filled with people:
people on the way to work, kids playing and mothers with prams.
‘I don’t understand,’ I muttered.
‘You see what you want to see, and hide behind your fears.
At least I’m honest about my cage.’
Just then an old Chinese man stopped in front of the cage.
‘There you are,’ he said, picking it up, and
looking into the duck’s eyes.
‘I’ve been looking for you everywhere.’
I stood up, again not knowing what to say.
The duck turned to me and spoke.
‘Lose the cage before it’s too late,’ it said.
I just stared at it and then looked at the old man.
‘You’re not going to...you know...eat it?’
The old man laughed heartily.
‘Eat it? Never! He’s an old friend.
And who would eat a talking duck,’ he finished
and after a quick bow, casually walked away.