Ruth Hoberman: “Make Way for Ducklings”

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Make Way for Ducklings  

Willows drag green fingers through our hair 
as we walk the Public Garden with our granddaughter, 
looking for ducks. I’ve never seen trees like this before,  

she says, climbing the thick roots knobbed like knuckles 
grasping dirt. We want to show her wonders,  we want to
justify—what, the stories we tell her?  

We want to justify the world. All we see are geese 
until two mallards arrive, one green-headed, 
the other gray—Mr. and Mrs., just like the book!  

I don’t mention patriarchy as I point out the male’s 
sunlit green and handsome ringed neck. Both 
seem dignified, content, deserving any help they get  

from nice policemen. So much depends  
on what we don’t discuss as we meander, cold, 
yet almost blinded by the low October sun.  

Then we pass what none of us has ever seen: 
a man decked in xylophones and stuffed dogs, 
birds, bangles, and tambourines, all dangling  

as he growls a bluesy song about sky and wings: 
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry. We watch, 
all three of us amazed as he, too, urges a child  

to trust the world. One of these mornings  
may the world justify our praise.

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About the Author: Ruth Hoberman mainly lives in Chicago. She writes poetry and essays, which have been published in such places as RHINO, Calyx, Smartish Pace, Naugatuck River Review, and Ploughshares.

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Image Credit: Image from Naturgeschichte der Vögel Mitteleuropas Gera-Untermhaus,F.E. Köhler,1897-1905 [v.1, 1905]. Courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library

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