It would be better to write a poem about ducks because no one would know you were talking about your life—your husband, your marriage, your children. You could distract them with the partial slick of ice on the lake, willows on the bank, bullrushes. You could have them think about the conversations they were having—or not having—with their partners, and then you could let them think about love and the way it’s always layered with sediment. Your children, your real children, meanwhile, gambol ahead, the sun shines, and the people and the lake and the leaves (falling, red, orange, brown) all chatter together making a sound that could be rustling—or is that peace you’re listening to?—a single moment of stillness as you cross the wooden bridge, and your feet don’t slip in the mud on the other side. At first no one notices when the dog rushes your daughter as if she’s some kind of game and your daughter runs as if it’s some kind of chase. You call at her to stand still but she won’t and then there are three dogs, and everyone’s running: you, the dogs, your husband. You go to your child, your husband goes to the dogs, and when he kicks at the air around them, a woman yells and he yells back, and in the midst of all that yelling—the stupid, stupid woman with the stupid, stupid dogs—you say one quiet “fuck”; and then you realize it is right beside your daughter’s ear and that with one syllable you have just wiped out all those careful years—not saying fuck or shit or goddamn fucking sonafabitch—and because of that and so much more—the arrogance of the woman’s neck and the smugness of her feet—the act of kneeling beside your crying child (instead of following the woman and slamming her to the ground) becomes at once the hardest thing you’ve ever done and a prayer—make me better than I am. All the while, gulls stand on iced-over bits of lake and ducks bob in open water.