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No Ducks Were Harmed in the Writing of this Poem photo


  1. I dreamed we were in a department store trying to buy you shoes. The first table was filled with offerings that overwhelmed us; the shoes were confusing in their construction, and, even when clearly identifiable as shoes, they seemed utterly and callously indifferent to the reasonable needs of a human foot.  
  2. You were drawn to a pair that had once been two mated ducks. “They will stick out in a crowd,” you said, even though they were not particularly remarkable ducks—their feathers neither being bright nor drab enough to be memorable—but when I pointed this out you gave me those eyes that reminded me that none of us should pull on the thread of our own remarkability, and that a drab duck is still a duck. Awake or asleep, I have always been helpless in the face of your beautiful tautologies.
  3. But when we checked the price tag, they were two thousand dollars!—and it wasn’t even clear if this was the price for the pair or if it was the cost PER SHOE, not that it mattered because in either instance the duck shoes were well out of our price range. Though, as we walked away we mused that, for the ducks themselves, the cost was both meager and beside the point, as they no doubt would see no return from their own sale.
  4. Now awake, I think if I had known it was a dream, I would have bought you the shoes—the cost be damned!—and hopefully derived some meaningful parable from the whole affair about taking what you can from fleeting moments. But, it wouldn’t surprise me to have woken from buying the duck shoes and have been presented with an invoice from some creditor that had found me from the dream world, tacking on the two grand for the shoes to the money I already owed from frequenting brothels in my sleep, even if I never got any further in them than holding hands with my kindergarten teacher and being forced to sit in the waiting room trying to read erotic magazines whose letters swirled to form imposing recipes for uncookable soups.
  5. And as for the ducks themselves? I hope they took up refuge in a kinder dream, one that did not force them into being shoes.
  6. Or, if they are to be shoes—if there is nothing any of us can do about who and what we are—then let them be shoes. But also let them be well cared for and loved.


image: Dorothy Chan