Behind the tennis club building
and its rattling AC unit, a pair of mallards
swim the slow wide bend of creek.
Despite the racket, I pause above creekbank,
entranced by the iridescent green head
of the male, by how the two birds swim
together so closely. This proximity
and desire — are we so different?
They’re wary, suddenly. Predator.
Later I’ll read about mallards,
look at pictures for identifying signs.
A common species of waterfowl.
I don’t care; I’m still entranced.
I ask myself if I’ve seen the blue speculum
of these birds, realize I haven’t been watching
closely. I’m still. He watches as his mate
tips up and feeds. This vigilance, hunger,
this desire for safety — we are so similar.
Half a dozen to over a dozen olive eggs:
this fecundity a strategy for survival —
hopefully, a few (at least two) hatchlings
will survive predation. I wonder where
their nest is, how safe it is from predators.
Some things we don’t need to know.
He’s showy, will draw attention away
from his mate, their nest of eggs or brood.
She’s drab, blends in with low vegetation.
You ask me if I mind being alone.
Ah, but I’m not alone, and I don’t brood.
See this world, full of birdcalls, feathers
and down? See this winding creek
and its shielding strip of woods,
teeming with life? Ask me something
important: have I’ve seen a mallard’s
blue speculum? No, I’ll reply,
but I’m watching closely now, vigilant.
Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 8