The Duck – Eric Thralby

The night of a storm, a duck banged into the window.

That’s Quackers, my daughter said.

Rain fell onto the window. Branches tapped the walls.

I came to the window. There was the duck in the mud on its back. It did not move like a duck, but like meat bewitched.

That’s my duck, she said. I love my duck.

I dressed in a number of shirts and rubber gloves and entered into the ripping and tearing of the storm. Here was the duck in the mud. It opened and closed its bill. It reached away from me and dragged itself with its wing, which was broken. I scooped the duck up. 

My daughter banged on the window. She smiled and showed Bemelmans.

Should I have brought him up close to the glass and waved with his little webbed foot?

She opened the book. 

Even through the glass and in the storm, I heard her voice come through very faintly, reciting the lines I had read her and read her, as if she were now reading it herself.

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines

Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines

The duck moved its wings around in my arms. It felt like a vase I had hoped would stay glued.

In two straight lines they broke their bread

And brushed their teeth and went to bed

Rain streamed down the duck and I felt its heart beat into my thumb. I moved my fingers over its throat like a ripe ear of corn.

They left the house at half past nine

In two straight lines in rain or shine

It went limp in my arms like an unfolded shirt.

note: I am not a father. This piece is false. I do not know what to say to a child when an animal dies, but I suspect it is a moment which reminds you to live very fiercely. Once I tended to a raccoon which was injured in our yard. We had a sliding glass door and there the raccoon lay. I could not see if it was external, internal or age. Raccoons have a great deal of beautiful fur. It arrived one day as I was leaving for school. I brought it a jar lid full of water. It did not drink. It did not move from the doormat. When I returned from school I brought it a second jar lid full of Cheerios. As I went to sleep that night, I listened to it breathing. And around six in the morning, as it had become very loud, I went to the sliding glass door. The raccoon sat up as if trying to reach something. It growled or purred, as if its chest were rumbling, then reaching further and further, it shrieked, unrolled and then lay very flat. I buried the raccoon with the doormat, the jar lids and a small handful of roses.

Captain by trade, Cpt. Eric Thralby works wood in his long off-days. He time-to-time pilots the Bremerton Ferry (Bremerton—Vashon; Vahon—Bremerton), while other times sells books on, SellerID: plainpages. He’ll sell any books the people love, strolling down to library and yard sales, but he loves especially books of Romantic fiction, not of risqué gargoyles, not harlequin romance, but knights, errant or of the Table. Eric has not published before, but has read in local readings at the Gig Harbor Candy Company and the Lavender Inne, also in Gig Harbor.

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