Elegy for My Queer Drake

Mark Smith

Such a murder mystery this morning,
I have barely touched my eggs.
My fattest drake is missing.
Unlike the evening when the wild dogs
broke through to savage my sebastopols,
the gate beside the road was latched,
and this time no sign of coyotes
digging beneath the boards and wires.
Surely the drake was too heavy
for the owl to lift, that same monster
who picked off my stupid araucanas
when they fled the henhouse
and roosted nightly in the tamarisk.
Only a bear or mountain lion
could have scaled that fence,
and both have been seen hereabouts,
the mountain lion in the arroyo
behind the grammar school, the bear
in the apple tree of the wine maker
where it made kindling of the branches.
Either could have carried off my drake.

the fat drake’s role as thug and bully
and goes about my ducks and chickens,
puffed up and swaggering, gluttonizing
on the scratch and corn when not
ravishing his reluctant harem. Quite
the transformation from the little sniveler
the fat drake would drive away and humiliate
by buggering, pinning him with the power
of his obesity, the victim’s neck
scissored in the rapist’s beak. Only
yesterday he wandered the orchard
as an outcast, punch-drunk and submissive.

He is the last of three drakes
a friend delivered in a cardboard box.
The first despot was so nasty and obnoxious
I lent him to the neighbor across the road,
where, in company with a flock of turkeys
for whom the bravado plumage of the tom
was no protection from its predators,
he was given the job of eating grasshoppers.

His first Sunday in the field, while
in the presence of the neighbor’s wife,
who was cutting gladiolas for the service
at the mission, he was taken by a fox.

Somewhere on those mountain slopes
that overlook my patio and village,
perhaps as far up as those aspen
in the canyon, is the mountain lion
or bear that tore apart and ate my drake.
Given such a fate, I should have
eaten him myself, as gesier, maigret,
or confit in a cassoulet, a fitting
finish for a fat rouen. No one will miss
his brutality, or his rapine, greed,
and sodomy, but I will surely miss
his comedy, the sight of him bottoms up
in the little irrigation ditch,
his fat ass wedged between the tiles,
his long neck in the stream, his beak
cracking the snails he loved to eat.

Mark Smith is a novelist whose best-known novel, The Death of the Detective, was an National Book Award finalist and was republished by Northwestern University Press in 2007. His poetry has appeared recently in New Letters, Pleiades, and Poetry East. He has received grants and fellowships from the Rockefeller, Guggenheim, Ingram Merrill, and Fulbright foundations as well as from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is an emeritus professor of English at the University of New Hampshire and lives in DeLand, Florida.

“Elegy for My Queer Drake” appears in our Spring 2013 issue.