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
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—
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
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
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
— 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
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.