Marcia Slatkin’s poem, “The Last Duck” appeared in our Summer 1991 issue. Her latest collection is Not Yet: A Care-Giving Collage.
We trapped him—the dignified malewith the graceful neck—and held him downtill drowned. His death
was ugly, His heartwouldn’t let his wingsgo limp. They hitthe lip of the tub like fists.There were long, slow movementswhen we could have let him live.Then his beak bubbled death,and we didn’t. That day
silence stilled the yard.The ducks didn’t fly, drink, eat,or bob their mobile necks to speak,but stood, breath-stopped as stone.
In time,they sought the boulderhe’d used as throne,exhaled sighslike oboe notes,
and the gargling rollfrom the root of their throatsflooded througheach bite we chewedof this last duckwe killed for food.
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