Early Morning in the Marsh

After we toss the black plastic decoys
we paddle out across the marsh,
the gray horizon giving way to orange
as the sun wheels up above the reeds.

Their stalks are black silhouettes
against the cold, early-morning sky
as a vee of ducks scatters in the distance.

The oars scrape the sides of the pirogue
as it sways toward the duck blind
and noses up against a muddy finger of earth.

Then we climb out as the mud and water suck
at our waders. You haul our shotguns
into the blind and straighten out the reeds
which are laced through sheets of chicken wire
and stapled onto a frame of damp two-by-fours.

You say this should be good enough for now.

Then I watch you take the wooden duck call
from the frayed lanyard around your neck
and blow into it. We both wait and watch
the mallards, blue-winged teals, widgeons,
wood ducks and canvasbacks skim by overhead.

You raise your .12 gauge to your shoulder
and pick off a duck with each of your three shots.
The smell of gunpowder climbs into my nose
as the dead birds pirouette from the sky.

I watch you eject the smoking plastic shells
into the tall grass beside our blind
then look off into the distance and watch
the rest of the ducks fly away
like a handful of tossed gravel—
a missed opportunity.

David Armand was born and raised in Louisiana. He currently teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he also serves as associate editor for Louisiana Literature Press. He has published three novels, a poetry chapbook, and a memoir. David lives with his wife and two children, and is working on his sixth book.

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