Sosuke the Duck (Script)

Sosuke was the smallest
of the 20 Indian Runner Ducklings

Their first night home Keith and I and the dog stare into the brooder, transfixed as they scurry

That’s when we notice he is limping

Did he get trampled by the others?
Had we handled him too rough?

I am afraid
but Keith cradles hits little body
heart fluttering against the palm of his hand
As soaks his leg in a warm epsom salt
bath in a soup bowl.

all life needs love

Keith says to me

and I vow to take the best care of him
because he is small and fluffy and yellow
but also because it scares me.

We separate him from the others,
but by morning he has hopped
on his good leg over the cardboard wall
to be with his friends

an avian vet is hard to come by
Sosuke is so small they take his XRays in
A machine meant for cats dental treatments

The next days are spent in the bathroom
For physio he swims in the tub

I treat him to peas, watermelon
and extra worms from the garden

at night i give him a clean beach towel
clap mosquitos out of the air
And sing him Beatles songs until he falls asleep.

The ducklings grow faster every day
Sosuke doesn’t grow as fast, but he does grow fonder.  learns his name.
And has one chirp he only uses for me

and while he can’t play in the garden
with the other ducklings
I give him a pool of water in the yard
and fashion a sort of swing so the can stand with the flock

Every day I work on engineering a wheelchair so he can one day roam the lawn
on his own

he loves to swim in the pond, splashing and diving for slugs

in the water his friends can’t tell he’s different
don’t pick on him

he’s just a duck eating bugs

When i pick him up
he flaps his wings
like he’s flying

one night there is a thunderstorm that knocks out our power

i spend the night in a sleeping bag on the barn floor wrapping the brooder in blankets and bringing him hot water bottles to stay warm

he doesn’t get better, though

we hear from the specialist that it’s perosis
a slipped tendon
his leg bends the wrong way
it’s congenital
he’ll never walk

but I don’t mind.

in the winter he’ll live in the house where it’s warm
in his little wheelchair we’ll visit the children’s hospital
a great therapy animal

life on the farm is exhausting
but joyful
the chores distract me from my
ruminating thoughts
and at the pond each day
among the bullrushes and lilies
Sosuke and I find peace

One day in august I come back from the city
and he’s sitting in his soft grass,
he isn’t moving his good leg anymore.

i sing him to sleep that night

in the morning we visit the pond one last time
before going to the vet

and that’s it

a lifetime in two months to the day

I drive home, with Keith in the passenger seat
holding his little body
in a cardboard box

we find a place in the pine forest
Where the light shines just so
Dappled

our strength is not the body we are born in
but our zest for each moment we are given

There will be many animals on our farm
And many I’m sure will pass on

but none will I love as deeply, or remember as fondly
as Sosuke, my little runner duck who couldn’t.