Remembering Pato


No ripples disturb
The face of the lake.
She's resting from last night's storm.

The sky rests, too,
Bleak, gray, and flat,
Blurring the moment of dawn.

The sailboats' masts
Probing the mist.
The rain still hanging in air.

The still from without
Then seeps to within
Quieting the noise on my mind.

And I feel on my cheek
The caress of the breeze.
The willow bends gently to kiss me.

I love this old tree.
She has grown through my soul.
I've sat here often and long.

And she loves me, too,
Like a child in her arms:
Patient, and strong, yet kind.

At the edge of the fog
A splish-splashing sound,
Like someone washing up in the bath.

A splash on the face
Washes night from his eyes.
He yawns and stretches his wings.

The Herald has risen!
'Bout time, I should say.
He's later today than before.

And he knows it, too.
He has pride in his work
As he scurries on out into view.

Then into the air,
He tosses a quack,
A giggle, a squawk, and a flutter.

Then glancing around,
He esteems its effect
'Mong his kin huddled close 'round the buoys.

"Come on! Wake up!
A new day has dawned!
Let's go! Come on! Get it moving!"

A yawn then spreads
Like the wind 'long the shore
As the ducks are up'd from their slumber.

And the Herald then takes
To the air, for he sees
One group hasn't yet heard the news.

Then checking his flight
He aims his descent;
Swish, plop in the midst of the clan.

"Come on you guys.
Hop to it," he says.
"Ya, ya, we heard," say the others.

Then the rush for the bath:
They crowd to the showers,
Washing up. A quick swim before breakfast.

As the sun lifts the fog
He sees me at last.
His destination clearly aimed straight at me.

Head down, wings spread,
Pato, Pato, Pato, Pato
Webbed feet slapping hurredly on water.

Accelerate, lift off.
Glide, aim. Bank left.
Swooooosh. Splash. Head up. Shake and flutter.

"Quack, quack-a-rack,"
Good morning, he says.
"Morning Pato!" I reply with a grin.

"I brought something for you."
"Let me guess," he responds.
"Some bread, perhaps, for us all?"

"Half-right," I reply
"For I made it myself.
It's soft and still warm from the oven!"

"Bravo!" cheer the ducks
As they crowd in and around,
And spin and quarrel for treats.

"There's plenty for all.
I brought a whole loaf.
Pipe down. Keep it cool. Wait your turn."

Crumb by crumb,
It soon disappeared.
Each piece barely damp before gobbled.

And feeling quite full,
They strolled off and away
Save Pato who lingered behind.

We gossiped and chatted
'Bout the weather and friends.
When asked how I was, I smiled, "Fine."

But my heart fell a bit
When I saw that some trash
Had tangled its way through his wings.

And I stared far away
And wondered awhile
What his home was like long ago.

When the water was clear,
Not green and opaque;
Before the plastic bottles and bags.

Then I asked him, too
If he remembered it then.
He said with his eyes, "Do you?"

As the crescendo of morning rush
Closed in around me,
A tear dripped clear through my heart.

For something,
Somewhere,
Deep within me,
Remembered.