Michael Dennis

the duck was doing what ducks do
sitting just off of the sidewalk

it was the parking lot of a big hospital
and I was waiting for a chemo friend

my new Thursday morning ritual
a ritual much harder for my friend than me

an older couple walked by
her pushing him in a wheelchair

with an oxygen tank riding piggyback
I knew he wanted my smoke

as soon as I looked him in the eye
so I smiled to say I was sorry

when the couple noticed the duck
they stopped their slow roll

and took up residence on the grass
a few feet away

it was a beautiful morning
for some of us

the minutes passed
and the four of us

sat there in silence
waiting for the next thing.

Born in London, Ontario, in 1956, Michael Dennis published his first poems in the early ’70s. His working life has included everything from stints in car plants and copper mines to installing artworks in galleries and doing time as a short-order cook and a dishwasher in a strip club; he ran a small boutique hotel in the ’80s, was Santa at the Kmart in Charlottetown one year, and opened a non-profit ESL school in Jablonec nad Nisou, Czechoslovakia, immediately following the Velvet Revolution. Michael has driven a taxi and a truck and had a brief stint as a private chauffeur. Now semi-retired, he lives in Ottawa, where he writes the popular blog Today’s Book of Poetry.