Arts + Scene » Poetry

The Ornithologist



Fed by a series of winter storms,
the local park's seasonal pond
has made its annual reappearance
and now dozens of ducks, alerted by
their innate pond-recognition software,
have descended to take up residence.

I pause on my daily walk to observe
them going about their ducky business,
gliding and head-dunking and quacking
in entertainingly Disneyesque fashion.

"Not enough meat on them yet!" shouts
a neighbor as he cycles past, and we
exchange the brief back-and-forth that
can help a community cohere, no matter
the outcome of the last election, but as
he disappears uphill, I drift back into
my solitary avian-regarding reverie.

I can scarcely tell a seagull from a swan,
so I certainly have no idea whether
sudden outbursts of wing-flap squalling
and outrage are triggered by disagreements
over food, habitat, or marital infidelity,
but I'm perfectly happy to watch the show.

In a few weeks, if past years are any guide,
there will be fluffy flotillas of cartoon-cute
ducklings frantically trying to follow their
imperious mothers, and I will be a pondside
onlooker, oddly but unquestionably soothed
by the scene, at least momentarily able to
accept what is, without having to ask why.

Iain Macdonald


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