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The mallard closest to me in the flock
dabbling in the shallows by the shore
in a blink upended its dust-to-vermilion
body as though on hips spinning unhindered by
steady legs, its tapered tail pointing skyward,
when I gave my farewell to Greenbelt Lake
before leaving for Boston to chase
my future and immerse myself fully
in poetry’s splendor. Its neck unfurled from its
violin-tip curve to submerge its glass-green
head into the glass-green lake and nibble
the threads of plant brocading the water’s bottom;
soon it just as suddenly swiveled
above surface and drew in its neck,
nestling its head on its plush-feathered breast.
Then it repeated. And repeated again.
As my sight broadened to the rest, they all
reflected its feat in scattered alternation—
two near the flock’s middle, three farther out:
a ballet of grazing, a loose melodious round
of motion. Why did they devastate me?
Why did I realize too late
how simply keeping alive, attending to
your simplest needs each day can radiate grace?