nthposition online magazine

The last light

by Brenda Schmidt

[ poetry - june 05 ]

A ruddy duck pumps the dusk out,
its blue bill spilling the last light.
I'm alone with it. Its cheek,
white as an eye rolled back, but wider,
pushes the rest of its body
into the darkness, bullies shadows
near the dugout's muddy edge.
Can one ever be too territorial?
Between outbursts, the bird faces east, its back
turned to certain beauty. There
cattails swab the eye while weed tips wick
the sky puddles. Perhaps this dugout is nothing
more than a nick, a gouge
fleshed with the usual reflections.
Everything is upside-down
as it should be: the predictable
reach of tree
clouds
the belly of the grebe as it dives
into itself - all the things I want
now to pull my eyes away from
still edged with a red I cannot name.
You said I'd see it here, but its sound
finds me first, finds me waiting, as if it believes
the coming listens only to what it cannot see.
On the surface light shrinks, a wound healing,
and into its centre, its diminishment, the duck swims.
Spinning on inversions, it calls again.
From a reservoir across the road
an answer.