by Marshall Jamison

On the windswept lake a wild duck sets down quietly,
Folds and refolds his wings carefully
As if to put them away for a while.
A female mallard, that we like to think of as his mate,
Hovers along the shore over tiny ducklings, that in the dark,
we count at eight.

In the early partial sunshine of the next day’s morning light,
Our six year old granddaughter happily corrects my count
to ten.

Tiny, brown, lively, constantly chirping newcomers to the
experience of life,
Often fraught with danger but with their new found joy,
Exploration.

A discovery of earth, water, sky and shore, of maternal care,
And on her part, what may surely be described as love.

For the new mother’s constant supervision and concern
Is a revelation to all of us who watch the family’s growth
And sad to say, some of its members’ death.

For the joy of new found life was shortened for almost
Half the brood by occurrences their watchful guardian
Could not control:
The wake of a speedboat’s churning propeller
A hawk’s lightning bolt descent and attack and
An off shore gall that blew two of them away from
Her sheltering wings.

Now the remaining mallard family has responded
To the allure of the horizon and may no longer
be seen along our shore.

They share a wider vision of sky, earth and sea
With all living creatures wild and free.

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