Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Wild Duck
By Lola Ridge
 
I
THAT was a great night we spied upon,
See-sawing home,
Singing a hot sweet song to the super-stars,
Shuffling off behind the smoke-haze …
Fog-horns sentimentalizing on the river …        5
Lights dwindling to shining slits
In the wet asphalt …
Purring light … red and green and golden-whiskered,
Digging daintily pointed claws in the soft mud.
 
But you did not know,        10
As the trains made golden augurs
Boring in the darkness,
How my heart kept racing out along the rails.
As a spider runs along a thread
And hauls him in again        15
To some drawing point.
You did not know
How wild ducks’ wings
Itch at dawn …
How at dawn the necks of wild ducks        20
Arch to the sun,
And how sweet in their gullets
Trickles new-mown air.
 
II
As water, cleared of the reflection of a bird
That has swiftly flown across it,        25
Yet trembles with the beating of its wings …
So my soul, emptied of the known you … utterly …
Is yet vibrant with the cadence of the song
        you might have been …
 
But ’twas a great night—        30
With never a spoiling look over the shoulder,
Curved to the crook of the wind.
And a great word we threw
For memory to play knuckles with …
A word the waters of the world have washed,        35
Leaving it stark and without smell …
A word that rattles well in emptiness:
Good-by.
 
 
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