They cluster in easy silence
These sleek, green mallards
Like a bunch of uncles after Christmas dinner
With a mutter and squawk of conversation
Now and then.

One of the uncles
declares himself a father
When I get too close to the ducklings
Tucked up under their mother,
Who is keeping an eye on me.

They are too small, too hot, too alive
To rest for long, these ducklings.
They cannonball into the warm water,
And zoom around the rocks and plants.
They raise up on tiny motorized unicycles
and speed across the pond.

The whole family goes for a lap,
Visiting ivy, ferns, moss;
the goo, the slime, the bugs.
They tank over rocks,
Slide into the water and paddle in circles.

Days later,
I can still see you:
Mother in full sail,
Your flotilla of fluffies
Following your waltz up the pond,
Making mischief behind your back,
Then finding a place in your sway.

Editor’s note: The poem’s author, Elena Louise Richmond ’76, has her own “rather eclectic studio” called Local Dilettante in Seattle, where she teaches music and watercolor painting and writes. She is working on a memoir called “99 Girdles on the Wall.” To learn more about her and read excerpts of her book, visit