Friday, May 5, 2017

the nuptial life of ducks

The duck couple are roosted (is that word right?) on the concrete embankment of the riverwalk, side-by-dappled-side: drake's green mallard feathers shining in the sun, hen's blue wing-decal glistening like a shadow in his wake.

They notice my approach with the anxiety of creatures who possess too lowly a station on the food chain to afford Disinterest (n.: an expensive luxury for prey).

Following my departing form with beady, suspiciously shifting eyes, they turn slowly back to pondering the rushing current of the canal water as it slows down from the hurdy-gurdy of the churning man-made rapids of the locks and dams back into the slow drag of the St. Joseph river, flowing, mysteriously North, some drab Midwestern Nile falling upwards to the delta of Lake Michigan.
They are rare ducks who can afford leisure hours of simply watching the water run from their public front-porch-perch.

I think they may be stuck in rut. They sit next to each other, a silence looming between them like partners whose bodies glue together two stranger souls. Perhaps their connection has lost its spark like over-used tinder strips on matchboxes from East Village bars. Perhaps the mating has lost its verve this spring. The hen is hesitant to mention it, doesn't want to hurt his feelings; but the drake knows it in his gut, feeling its clammy lump sticking in his gullet like a live minnow, flopping, squirming discomfort refusing to be choked down.

They've lost something -- the spark just isn't there-- she said this morning to her friends upstream; but they ignore it for now, and watch the river in heavy silence, pretending for a few running passers-by longer that nothing has changed. Not this spring.