Ducks Sat

Where ducks sat we sat next

And wanted to be Dutch.

If we would walk upright and not

Glance right or left the intersections

Would not come at us

Sideways, is what we thought.

But after a time it is hard

To keep feeling you are making this the best time

To look back on.

We talked.  Some times I would walk

By a beetle thrashing

On the rocking of its domed-back and flip

It rightside. To say I’m here, and you be there.

Now the cicadas. Their long curving

Sound, and I turn

The thick line of their music into

Us. Even the ducks.

Then look back at the trip, how

Better than to be on it it is to be

Well bathed, and able to read the coins

And translate their value.


Copyright © 2016 by Michele Glazer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 4, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Walking in Amsterdam, I experienced the Dutch as singularly focused, and solid; people occupying space unequivocally, gracefully, even as they were moving through it. One aspect of traveling for me is feeling awash in ambivalences. I want glints of how it feels to be inside the foreign culture looking out, while at the same time I know it is ridiculous to think I will be privy, and further, I will not know even the extent to which I do not know. It’s not as hard as it sounds, all this uncertainty. But, there I was, senses heightened, trying to be attentive. And then there were ducks, so the ducks went in the poem. The poem’s catalyst is also the first sentence: a sturdy rhythm and a twist that got at something of that Dutchness. If there had been no ducks, perhaps there would have been no poem.”
—Michele Glazer