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Where Do the Ducks Go?

A young man once asked

a cab driver in a troubled voice,

“Where do the ducks go

in the wintertime?”


Call me ignorant.

Call me out on my simplicity,

but similar thoughts have crossed my mind.


You shake your head at me,

rolling your stormy blue eyes.

You tell me they fly south

just like the robins and the geese.


But, as you sit there

with a smug smile pursed on your lips,

I can’t help but wonder

about the last one to hatch--

the runt of the bunch that struggled

to free himself from his warm white enclosure.


I can’t help but think

of the yellow ball of fluff

that still waddles behind his mother,

watching wide-eyed from the ground

while his brothers take off into the horizon.


Where do the ducks go

when the pond freezes over?


Where do we go when

the icy wind is at our faces,

and we’re not sure if we can fly? 


From reading your summary, I know the inspiration and purpose of this piece, and of course the identity of the "young man" mentioned in the first stanza. I'd like to say I'd've known without having such a summary, but I'm not sure that's true -- although I'm quite familiar with the book, it would take me on a sharp day to pick that reference out. That's not a critique -- I think you alluded to it well, although you might question for yourself whether you want to invoke it to a greater extent, and perhaps consider threading other nods through the rest of the poem to strengthen the tie to the source of inspiration.

I love the last stanza. My first thought upon reading it was "Wow. This poem made me think a great deal more than I thought it would." That turnaround from a rather simple query to a more profound philosophical quandary is a good one -- and also turns back on the assumptions made about the narrator of the poem asking such a seemingly simple question. In that way, the opening and the closing book-end the poem quite nicely.

The piece might gain impact if you gave your little duckling a gender, especially since everything else in the poem is gendered (up to and including that little duckling's "brothers"). It would automatically make him (or her!) more relatable, more sympathetic. Is it important that we sympathize/empathize with the little duckling? That's a question for you to decide, but in my view given the turn of the last stanza it's important for the reader to feel some sense of relation there. It actually adds a lot more than I even suspected it would. Wonderful work.

Overall, an enjoyable read. I always appreciate a good narrative poem and you've pulled this one off well.