This Place and Time
By Tina Castañares
Sound of a duck’s wings.
Spill of green
along the blue sky high-
way down beneath the cottonwoods,
the maples and the oaks
between, the pond’s face
littered by the fluff and seeds
of cattail, dandelion, salsify.
Red-stemmed feral berry
vines are snaking, snagging through
the brushy rim.
There go the ducks
stuffed with cracked corn,
throats shuddering to get it
down and safely stored,
tipping in the water,
standing on it, flapping noisily
to clean their iridescent
feathers. Odell Creek is bubbling
to the gully just below.
Ducks still wetly flutter.
Wild iris rooted at the edge
was finished months ago with
yellow spring regalia and
months from now will be
but huddled waiting clumps
under the snow.
It’s breezy, softly, lightly gusty
moving, blowing gently
so as not to daunt the honeybees from
feeding at the last remaining
weedy flowers. Flies and ants,
white butterflies as stubby as my thumb,
show summer hasn’t ended.
Things of humankind are present
too—a weathered wooden shop,
a broken tabletop and
ladder leaned against it,
a stovepipe rusting where it stands,
wind chimes playing in the south, old
cars junked over by the banks.
A duck is rustling once more at its bath.
Nothing feels threatened here, not
pond or duck, not tree or bush or
berry, weed or bee,
not hand of man or favored
or forgotten objects, not even
that tall leaning oak which won’t
begin to topple to the creek within
Elsewhere and far away
the wind is heaping up the sea,
the rains are overtopping rivers.
Fauna flee as best they can,
and flora await drowning.
One day those very places
will prove refuge from the forces.
And my little grassy perch
in all its simple, mostly quiet seasons
will have disappeared
underneath ash, blanketed by lava,
scraped away by ice, thrust below
the sea floor and extruded by volcanos.
Different winds and waters will
flow past where it once was.
For now the ducks are sleeping,
heads tucked in their freshened wings,
eyes softly, confidently closed.
Tina Castañares is a 59-year-old poet and physician from Odell, Oregon, who has been writing creatively since her childhood. Her poems have been published in several journals and anthologies. She hopes to write creative nonfiction in her retirement.