Ducks

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Gasoline smell on my hands, perfume
From the generator’s toothless mouth,
Opening swallow from the green hose,
Sweet odor from the actual world.

There’s an old Buddhist saying I think I read one time:
Before Enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.
After Enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.
The ducks, who neither carry nor chop,

Understand this, as I never will,
Their little feet propelling them, under the water,
Serene and stabilized,
                                    from the far side of the pond
Back to the marsh grasses and cattails.

I watch them every night they’re there.
Serenitas. I watch them.
Acceptance of what supports you, acceptance of what’s
Above your body,
                             invisible carry and chop,

Dark understory of desire
Where we should live,
                                     not in the thrashing, dusk-tipped branches
Desire is anonymous,
Motoring hard, unswaying in the unseeable.

This poem originally ran in the July 14, 2011, issue of the magazine. 

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