A few years ago I spent two inert hours sitting at the duck pond on the Whitman College campus in Walla Walla. It was 109 degrees which is why I was inert. The two hours produced a poem. The poem was printed in this quarter’s Whitman College alumni magazine.
Lakem Duckem gets its name from more than the ducks. It has long been a body of water used for fraternity pranks and for consequences of the same. When I was at Whitman College in the 70’s, I was thrown into what was then a stagnant pond of duck poop on account of having masterminded an RF (Royal Fuck). A bunch of us dug about 300 earthworms and distributed them all over the TKE house at 3:00 in the morning.
As I write this, I think how incredibly stupid it all was. The definition of sophomoric humor. Worms? It wasn’t even particularly imaginative, which is probably the harshest judgment I can make about anything. Here’s penance:
Two Hours at Lakem Duckem
They cluster in easy silence
These sleek, green mallards
Like a bunch of uncles after Christmas dinner
With a mutter and squawk of conversation
Now and then.
One of the uncles
declares himself a Father
When I get too close to the ducklings
Tucked up under their mother,
Who is keeping an eye on me.
They are too small, too hot, too alive
To rest for long, these ducklings.
They cannonball into the warm water,
And zoom around the rocks and plants.
They raise up on tiny motorized unicycles
and speed across the pond.
The whole family goes for a lap,
Visiting ivy, ferns, moss;
the goo, the slime, the bugs.
They tank over rocks,
Slide into the water and paddle in circles.
I can still see you:
Mother in full sail,
Your flotilla of fluffies
Following your waltz up the pond,
Making mischief behind your back,
Then finding a place in your sway.
Elena Louise Richmond, July 1, 2008