We buried her quietly in the front yard,
When the sun had set and the rain had ceased,
The dying light allowing us to dig
A shape just larger than the meager box
That held her body, several-hours cold,
Which we should never have a need to hold.
We had seen her, and her mate, as well
As many groups of children through the years,
The happy couple returning every year
To nest beside a creek, and waddle by
The same old busy streets, and stop to eat
Beneath some feeders in a neighbor’s yard.
And here they were, the family at this feast
So readily at hand, habituating them
To bear the presence of people all around,
When out of nowhere and without a care
One careless, reckless driver in a rush
Struck her, mother mallard, and just drove on…
“She’s dead,” I heard and looked upon
Her still and silent form cradled so tenderly,
Thus cradled while alive and as she died;
So light yet bearing all the weight of death,
She seemed as though asleep, but no—
She slept forever, dead by a single blow.
We sowed some sweet alyssum seeds upon her grave
And apologized in vain for our so-selfish race
While bearing all the weight of needless death,
Of all the suffering wrought by human hands
And the cold machines that we have built in vain
To keep their blood off of our blood-stained hands.
Image credit: Catherine Munro, from Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.