The beams prismed sunlight, their thick lengths streaks
Like shadows of insects over a marsh sun.
I watched their progress through prickling eyes,
Following their puppet strings up
To the craned cabs and tiny men -
Orange speckled heads: water fowl drawing
Their congealed food from the wet.
I stepped back, dusting dry gravel under rubber heel
And watched the antiphony of sun and metal:
Fireworks and mirage, wavering wet in the heat.
My helmet, slick with salt, slid back
And tumbled in tiny hops to the shade.
An ink stain removed itself from the dark:
My foreman clamped my helmet back
But of course
He swung a knob-muscled arm up, shading his face
And the shadow cut his jaw, his cracked grin.
“Great old thing, innit? Beaut ‘a nature, that.”
My eyes could find no place to perch – lodge!
From his face – to its face:
Its beetle eyes twinked at my pain.
The duck on his head quacked.
And I quaked.
The foreman swaggered, spread-legged
Like a bull rider prideful of his belt.
The duck shuffled its feathers and yawned.
We – we didn’t say much.
Routine fell into its ruts, as it always had and would,
We understood, falling under its yellow grin,
The need to ignore the duck.
It was in this form we passed the day
Without embarrassing incident.
We wondered, without implicative speech,
Whether he could – whether it held any weight.
Assembly on the skeleton dawdled,
Hands weighted by hypothetical thought.
We all blamed the duck.
It was some time later, when the sun slanted
And made spiderwebs of the fragile framework
That I heard the champagne-bottle pop
And saw the slow flick of wire
The turn of metal in the sky
And my foreman patiently gnawing at his pen.
I cried, flapping and squawking:
And I was crushed flat.
I blame the duck.