Reflections from a home front: 11
A rather different sort of post today. Since the very beginning of this series, I’ve been meaning to put audio versions of these poems alongside the text. Believing as I do that poetry is a multimodal art form whose primary medium is sound and whose instrument is the voice, I didn’t really want to leave my words stranded on the screen. So this is partly to say that, rather belatedly, I’ve inserted a recorded reading for every poem, and will henceforth.
Last time’s ‘Zoom Meeting’, in particular, was fun to do and comes to life in performance. That said, the poem seemed to strike a chord, quite unassisted by my vocal efforts. I usually get one or two messages or emails in response to these posts, which is lovely, but loads of people got in touch to share their recognition and requesting to share. (Always fine; these posts are completely public.) So if you enjoyed reading it, you can now hear it.
The next reflection and poem are mulching and will be along later in the week. But the thought of venturing out without some verse now feels a bit odd, like going out not properly dressed. So to cover up, here’s bit of unpretentious, non-corona-related fluff from the back of the archive. The justification, if required (though I’m not sure a rubber duck ever needs justification), is the theme of unanticipated benefits. You can hear me read the poem by clicking the play button.
The Great Duck Diaspora
In 1992, a container ship in the North Pacific Ocean was hit by a storm. Twelve 40-foot containers were washed overboard, and their contents – 28,000 bath toys – released to the waves.
In nineteen hundred and ninety two
A stately ship left China’s shore,
On deck, containers, row on row –
The precious cargo that she bore.
Early in the voyage, a storm
Sent raging waves across her beam,
Sweeping cargo overboard,
Splitting cases, seam from seam.
Thirty thousand rubber ducks
Were flung into the ocean’s path.
To freedom, and an early bath.
Cast upon the circling tides,
The little ducks began to swim,
To circumnavigate inside
Three years, the whole Pacific Rim.
North along the Bering Strait
One brave flotilla boldy forged.
Now in blocks of ice they wait
To press along their Arctic course.
For fifteen years, Anatid sightings
Came from distant lands and seas,
From Malibu to Massachusetts,
Hawaii to the Hebrides.
And from these trails, the scientists
Could trace where ocean currents went.
(Which helps with the environment.)
Oh lucky, ducky accident!
And so, the duck that shares your bath –
A cheery, yellow floating smile –
While dabbling in domestic bliss
Dreams of cousins in the wild.