Saturday, December 06, 2008

Feeding Ducks

Feeding Ducks by Norman MacCaig

One duck stood on my toes.
The others made watery rushes after bread
Thrown by my momentary hand; instead,
She stood duck-still and got far more than those.

An invisible drone boomed by
With a beetle in it; the neighbour’s yearning bull
Bugled across five fields. And an evening full
Of other evenings quietly began to die.

And my everlasting hand
Dropped on my hypocrite duck her grace of bread.
And I thought, ‘The first to be fattened, the first to be dead’,
Till my gestures enlarged, wide over the darkening land.

Lovely. It feels a typically Scottish poem. Partly, it is in the way it conflates the personal and the global - from a duck standing on his toes in the first line to his enlarged gestures wide over the land in the last line. Also the turn from quaint, almost cute observation of nature into cold reality. There is no silly anthropomorphism here - the duck is going to be eaten. Scots practicality.

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