As When Waking

Daniel Schonning

Heads tucked
into the dark
jamb of breast and wing, the mallards sleep in
knots. Two dozen of them
litter the blue ice—doze against waves frozen
mid-curl. Bright cracks fissure the pond like
neurons, like veins, like
oak branches advancing into the open air—
presence mimed by absence—
quiet
ruptures, all. While the mallards
suck winter sun into
their dark backs, they dream their way into the pond’s green
underneath—
vie
with half-open eyes for the muddy floor. Light filters down in
x’s, runs its fingers through the gloom. When dreaming, as when
  waking, the mallards can do little else but
yearn: For a pure white sun stalled at its
zenith; for round-edged bits of
apple
bread; for yet more
cold and knotted bodies with whom to share the
day. Above all, they dream that—somewhere under all this ice,
      where they can one day find it—there is an
egg-shaped hole in the
floor of the world, from which all
good things swim

Daniel Schonning is a poet whose work appears or is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Orion Magazine, Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. He works and writes in Colorado.
Originally published:
September 20, 2021

Featured

Conversations

Emily Ogden and Dana Spiotta

Reckoning with middle age and complicity
Emily Ogden
and
Dana Spiotta

The Stakes of Dictee

An introduction to a famously difficult work
Ken Chen

Theater of Shame

The rise of online humiliation
Charlie Tyson

You Might Also Like

Widowing

Prageeta Sharma

Park Street

Cindy Juyoung Ok


Subscribe

New perspectives, enduring writing. Subscribe to The Yale Review and receive four beautiful print issues per year.
Subscribe