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Feeding the ducks: A poem

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Senior Staff

MARCH 11, 2023

The two must have been here for at least an hour.

I had seen them on my way into the gardens,

Before my shoes were stained with the grime of the Earth,

Still walking on the pebble road — not diverting.

I saw them again on my way out,

After my long hike during which

Mother Nature consumed me

in open arms

And I, humbled, surrendered to all her glory.


The two of them:

A mother and her little girl

Feeding the ducks.

I sat idly on a rock

And watched.

The little girl

In her yellow rain boots and bucket hat

Her eyes wide open to take in

All that is so new to her,

All that is in front of her—


The world.


She was throwing crumbs of bread

Into the water.

And there they all went — the ducks;

Sliding across the pond smoothly, effortlessly.

But beneath the ripples, their feet were rapidly paddling

Keeping them afloat

The effort — hidden from sight.

I knew this. The mother did, too.
But the girl — to her, it must have seemed wonderful.
These funny little creatures
Just… floating.
                                       Who’s to say that’s not true?
                                                          — that it’s not magic(al)?


Boredom trickled over the mother’s face


Especially if they had actually been here

For an hour

Doing the exact same thing

I watched them do.

But then again, what’s so bad about that?

What better way to

Spend a sunny morning

Than to feed the ducks

For hours?


The girl let out a joyful shrill

When one duck, upon finishing its meal,

Spread its wings and flapped them —

Rising slightly above the water,

Putting on a delightful show.

The girl — oh so excited —

Ran in circles, her arms extended,




Hush now baby, said the mom

Glancing at me


And I remembered — suddenly —

The first time I’d ever fed ducks:

I was a toddler,
                          Just like her
                         Just like her

In a perpetual state of wonder

— very much alive

And amazement

And awe

— upon me.


What changed? I wonder(ed)…

When did it change?

When did life stop to amaze me so?

When did I lose this joy?

When did this mother?

When did we all?


Was it when we learned

That ducks paddle their feet under the water

To glide?

That it’s not magic after all, but rather an illusion

Their bodies, designed to float

With little effort.


I got up from the rock.

The mother looked concerned:

Was I leaving because they had been loud?

Sssh, she told her daughter again

Who was still

Running in circles,

Oblivious, in reverie.


But I didn’t leave

When I got up.

Instead, I took a deep breath:


And I started running with her.

Contact Merve Ozdemir at 


MARCH 11, 2023