Ducks

dux

I came across this beautiful creature, a Mandarin duck, in Central Park yesterday.

The accompanying poem, by F.W. Harvey, was written while the poet was a prisoner during the first World War. The inspiration for it came from a drawing of ducks on water that another prisoner had scratched out in chalk on the wall over his bed.
I

From troubles of the world I turn to ducks,
Beautiful comical things
Sleeping or curled
Their heads beneath white wings
By water cool,
Or finding curious things
To eat in various mucks
Beneath the pool,
Tails uppermost, or waddling
Sailor-like on the shores
Of ponds, or paddling
– Left! Right! – with fanlike feet
Which are for steady oars
When they (white galleys) float
Each bird a boat
Rippling at will the sweet
Wide waterway …
When night is fallen you creep
Upstairs, but drakes and dillies
Nest with pale water-stars.
Moonbeams and shadow bars,
And water-lilies:
Fearful too much to sleep
Since they’ve no locks
To click against the teeth
Of weasel and fox.
And warm beneath
Are eggs of cloudy green
Whence hungry rats and lean
Would stealthily suck
New life, but for the mien
The hold ferocious mien
Of the mother-duck.

II

Yes, ducks are valiant things
On nests of twigs and straws,
And ducks are soothy things
And lovely on the lake
When that the sunlight draws
Thereon their pictures dim
In colours cool.
And when beneath the pool
They dabble, and when they swim
And make their rippling rings,
0 ducks are beautiful things!
But ducks are comical things:-
As comical as you.
Quack!
They waddle round, they do.
They eat all sorts of things,
And then they quack.
By barn and stable and stack
They wander at their will,
But if you go too near
They look at you through black
Small topaz-tinted eyes
And wish you ill.
Triangular and clear
They leave their curious track
In mud at the water’s edge,
And there amid the sedge
And slime they gobble and peer
Saying ‘Quack! quack!’

III

When God had finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones;
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made, and then
He made the comical ones in case the minds of men
Should stiffen and become
Dull, humourless and glum,
And so forgetful of their Maker be
As to take even themselves – quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns:
All God’s jokes are good – even the practical ones!
And as for the duck, 1 think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day He fashioned it.
And he’s probably laughing still at the sound that came out of its bill!

Respect Others

Go Slowly
The sign says “Respect Others.”
It sounds easy enough 
but that all depends on how you define “others.”
This is not the first time a direction that sounds easy in theory 
becomes difficult in practice.
Do you feel disrespected?
A lot of us do, for a simple reason:
We are disrespected.
Most of us, as individuals, deserve disrespect sometimes but none of us do as members of a group.
A gentle reminder.
 

Go Slow

Dublin and New Orleans

This world is crowded with beauty that is scattered across its surface in uneven proportions, from mountaintops to deserts, from coral reefs to savannahs to jungles dripping with color, light, and life. The most beautiful place to me is my home: New York City, and I’m drawn to cities all over the globe. Two of my favorites are Dublin and New Orleans.

Dublin
New Orleans

They both hug the shores of great rivers – the Mississippi and the Liffey.  

New Orleans

Dublin

 

They’re both bursting with history.

Dublin
New Orleans

They’re both good places to have a drink 

Dublin

 

New Orleans

or just sit and sketch.

Dublin
New Orleans

But the best things about both are their musical pulse and their friendly, fascinating people.

Dublin

 

New Orleans


Time Traveler: Improbable Module

I am a time-traveler. So are you. I’m glad our paths cross here.

I come from the year 1962, launched into the future inside an improbable module that has grown, expanded, and now has begun to contract. Some day in the not to distant future, even if I survive all the obstacles the universe hurls with amoral abandon, my vehicle will use up the last of its fuel and will become incapable of processing the oxygen and hydrogen molecules that keep me alive. I’m OK with that.

Photo by Lennart Nilsson