Lola Ridge

(December 12, 1873- May 19, 1941 / Dublin)

Wild Duck - Poem by Lola Ridge


That was a great night we spied upon
See-sawing home,
Singing a hot sweet song to the super-stars
Shuffling off behind the smoke-haze…
Fog-horns sentimentalizing on the river…
Lights dwindling to shining slits
In the wet asphalt…
Purring lights… red and green and golden-whiskered…
Digging daintily pointed claws in the soft mud…
… But you did not know…
As the trains made golden augers
Boring in the darkness…
How my heart kept racing out along the rails,
As a spider runs along a thread
And hauls him in again
To some drawing point…
You did not know
How wild ducks' wings
Itch at dawn…
How at dawn the necks of wild ducks
Arch to the sun
And new-mown air
Trickles sweet in their gullets.

As water, cleared of the reflection of a bird
That has lately flown across it,
Yet trembles with the beating of its wings,
So my soul… emptied of the known you… utterly…
Is yet vibrant with the cadence of the song
You might have been….
'Twas a great night…
With never a waste look over a shoulder
Curved to the crook of the wind…
And a great word we threw
For memory to play knuckles with…
A word the waters of the world have washed,
Leaving it stark and without smell…
A world that rattles well in emptiness: Good-by.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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