If she had been a little less greedy,
or maybe a little less starved –
if the duck had chosen
a sensible dinner of small soft shell clams
instead of gorging on a hard shell as large as my hand,
she’d still be bobbing up and down in the ocean,
not dying on the sand with a bloody fractured neck.
I could feel the rapture of the raptor
as he spotted the plucky duck grappling with a mollusk
that wouldn’t submit.
I could taste the predator’s delight
at snatching an unexpected seaside snack,
an overambitious, unsuspecting fowl.
The duck’s beak was still wedged firmly
between the clam’s shells.
She didn’t surrender her prize after she met the guillotine.
I wondered if the captured clam felt brief relief from panic
when the fowl’s slow, determined
sucking suddenly ceased.
Golden shells fused with brown-speckled plumage,
scarlet triangles accenting a mangled neck –
the simple chain reaction that felt like a massacre.
A massive black hawk floated and flapped overhead.