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Jan 17, 2014 04:34PM ● Published by Kyle Jacobson

By: Kyle Jacobson

     Navigating the bazaar that is downtown Madison, I find myself at Union Terrace.  Large steps lead down to the lake at the edge of a massive concrete patio, on which seemingly scattered picnic tables roam in abundance.  Closer to the water is a raised stage for live music, but I will see none as it is clearly day time and the place is quite empty.  Off to the west end of the terrace sits a bar, hosting beers that I find somewhat bland and boring.  The locals like to pretend they’re getting a taste of something great, a notable feat of self-manipulation.

     Further west from the bar floats a dock.  It is one hop down from the sidewalk.  On the dock wanders a picnic table lost from its herd.  A duck sits on the water’s edge.  Dark green feathers mask an ever smiling bill which sits atop a fine white and black coat.  I sit next to the duck, expecting the creature to fly off, but it doesn’t acknowledge me, nor does it adjust its feet from under itself for a quick getaway.  The fowl joins me as I stare off into the lake.

     I grow in awe of the vastness inherent to the lake and sky, which I can appreciate due to my magnificent humanhood.  Rippling blue hills, white-capped from the sun’s reflection, move in my direction, then away, but really never at all.  If I stare to the west I will be able to tell when a gust of wind is coming as surface ripples agitatedly space themselves closer.  The light blue of the sky is the inside wall of a shell.  It keeps everything inside alive and well.  The world outside is uncertain.  That is to say, more uncertain than things down here.  I think greatly about all the things around me.  Though I will never fully understand their greatness, I can begin to.  It is an exercise in thought that few things on this planet can accomplish.

     Interrupting my placidity comes an inquisitive quacking.  I look over to my little green-feathered compatriot and get the sense he is trying to tell me something.  I tighten my brow and strain my ears in an effort to understand what I’m being told.  When he stops, I have no idea what he has said.  I cannot, for the life of me, understand one single quack escaping his boisterous beak.  When he is finished he looks up at me, as though he is anticipating some response.  I can only stare at him with great confusion.  The duck shakes his head and tries again, and again I have no notion of what it is I am being told.  “I do not understand you.”  Upon hearing this, the duck shrugs and hops playfully into the water.  “You want to go for a swim?”  The bird then sticks its head into the water in a rather erratic fashion and shakes.  I sit stupefied.  The duck takes one last look over his shoulder before deciding to forget me and fly away.  As it beats its wings against the water I realize what I really know.  For all my greatness as a human, for all the vastness and complexities I could somewhat understand, for my abilities to see beyond what everything only seemingly is, I cannot, nor I will I ever, understand the ramblings of a simple duck. 

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