The Time of Their Lives
by Ted Kooser
Today my ducks are eating windfalls
under the broken Jonathan tree—
nine white Pekins laughing like nuns
on a picnic, rolling the apple around
in the grass with their orange bills,
having the time of their lives.
Nothing escapes them. Near them,
a red leaf rides the long grass
with a papery rattle. A sweat-bee
deep in an apple sucks
the tart cider. A lacy elm leaf
sifts the wind. Their black eyes sparkle.
There is already ice in the reeds
at the edge of the pond. I have built
a cage in the dark garage, for tomorrow
they go to a hard young farm wife
easy with killing. They will be
packaged like gifts, heavy as hearts.
Their cage is sturdy, quick to close.
As my hammer tapped, they arched their necks
to hear better the tick of scales
as a bull snake passed. Above the cry
of my table saw, they heard a hawk’s wings
dust the blue bowl of the sky.