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Early this morning
in the gray of a steady rain
I saw a solitary duck
probably one of the dozen
who fed all summer
with the wise and watchful mother.

He was feeding with purpose
like an automaton dipping up
and down in the shallow water
near our dock.

Was he banished from the family group?
Did he grow restless
and swim off using his own compass
for direction?

Later in the afternoon
arrived the rest of the flock
I counted and there was one
duckling missing

This omission didn’t seem to disturb
the symmetry of the leader’s parade
and the remaining followers –
unmindful of the desertion.