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Poem May 2023

Mallard Ducks

It is late afternoon and a pair

of mallard ducks is paddling

the length and breadth of Lake

Katharine, their webbed feet

working beneath the waterline.

The male’s hunter green head

is iridescent in the sun, his bill

the bright yellow of summer

squash. But a female is harder

to see. Her mottled, brunette

feathers blend with the aquatic

vegetation, which will help her

protect the nest she has yet to

build, the eggs she has not yet

lain. Today, however, this hen

seems content to bob for plants

and small fish while swimming

around the lake with her mate,

the two of them silent as rubber

ducks floating in a child’s bath —

or an old married couple eating

their supper on separate trays.

— Terri Kirby Erickson

Terri Kirby Erickson’s seventh book of poetry, Night Talks: New & Selected Poems, will be released in October 2023.