Every morning they climbed up the tall bank
and sat in the willow-reeds, waiting for food.
And every morning the old man walked down
the dirt path, carrying a metal bucket of duck-feed
under his arm, pouring the contents out
on the grass. I watched from my window,
or from the playground where I sat in the still swings,
hoping to write. Waiting for a true word
to enter me, or flash momentarily on the dark water
next to the dock. Mostly, it was nothing.
White sand and wind. Small bugs caught
in the spiderwebs hung between chains.
Mostly, I just sat and stared at the water,
or at the tallest pines on the far other shore,
thinking of ripping it out. The way wind can
only push forward. The way silence can only
push back. And then in October, when the koi pond
froze, and their mother abandoned them
in the nest, knowing they wouldn’t be able
to fly, I watched the man walk down to the reeds
in the dark, putting his hand down flat
on a wood block, letting them pick out the grain.
Once, I wrote, Light pouring in through the windows
of death’s dark cathedral, and knew it was fake.
Another time, I watched two of the males,
huddled in the first snow, shivering under
the tall oak, and the man standing quietly,
watching the lake. I wrote, Water and more
water. I wrote, One or the other must go.