The Space of the Mandarin Duck
Apparently in Japan
One century and a half ago
The love-language of France
Was thought to be shocking.
So blatant, so presumptuous, so brutal
Its violation of the atmosphere
Proper to every person.
I covet, they said in Japan,
The space of the mandarin duck,
There, at your side, beside you.
The liminal duck took delight
Breezily as a go-between.
Tender obliquity saw it off.
A space with nothing there,
Dear old duck, even unaccompanied
And far, far away from others,
Still your space I covet.
Come the day when a volley of your quacks
Quells every twittering vandal of speech
And unspeaks the sweet-talker
Whose voice curdles with money and hate.
A Company of Ghosts
Sheep Meadow Press
Copyright © 2011 by Christopher Middleton
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission