Walking in, two white ducks greet you. Their feathers glow
in October light. It is clear they are in love. Coupled, they waddle
side-by-side, pecking leaf-colored lawn. One quacks,
the other whistles through its beak like a tea kettle.
Uncoupled, you stride away from them into forest.
You kneel by sanctuary stream flowing over step-like stones
grown green with moss. Late afternoon sun dims
westward, shines past aspens, ashes, maples – bas-relief
against hemlock. Light braids through water down to slate-bottom
pool. You lean your spine against white oak, stretch legs out
in dry, curled leaves, stir up must-smell, earth-damp. You drink
Folger's coffee from your blue thermos, seek balance through
everyday ritual. Owl glides over the stream's opposite bank,
low, close to ground. There are people who would claim
such vast wings slicing the darkening air mean that soon
you will die. And that's all right. Yet here among acorns
sought by silent deer, human voices drown in sinking light.
Only your voice rises with bird song. Hot day for October –
why not wade in pool? You kick off Reeboks, socks,
slide down small hill across oak leaves, pick your way
over slippery rocks into water. You skate barefooted
across smooth shale, pool so ice-cold you hop out
sometimes to perch on fossils formed from ancient sea.
Perhaps your heart will freeze to fossil in this autumn water.
At least, your voice sings that the day's shock of spotting
horned owl means you are wise enough to float away wild
from the waddling, pecking, quacking world
of tamed ducks.
BIO: Susan Deer Cloud is a
widely published, award-winning writer of Mohawk/Seneca/Blackfoot
heritage. Susan is the woman in the middle of the photo, in between her
friends Maria and Libby. Email: