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The Mallards

Updated on October 12, 2014

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?


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