A Mallard and a Bitter Orange
by Jared Beloff
follow the line
from the mallard’s bright foot
pointed skyward to its wing
tucked, head searching the calm below
confident as a diver and nothing
amiss—ignore the bitter fruit’s
protuberance, the shade of a table,
contrast of the kitchen wall’s ochre
or the great open wing
feathers ruffled, held by the hollow
bone, ligaments like thin twine
stretched beyond the thigh,
one leg left open
as if searching for purchase
or a reminder, even now,
of life’s cruel arrangement.
Inspired by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s painting.
Jared Beloff is the author of WHO WILL CRADLE YOUR HEAD (ELJ Editions, 2023). He is the editor of the Marvel inspired poetry anthology, Marvelous Verses (Daily Drunk, 2021) and has been a peer-reviewer for Whale Road Review since 2021. His work can be found at Night Heron Barks, Barren Magazine, River Mouth Review, The Shore, Contrary and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @Read_Instead and see his website jaredbeloff.com. He is a teacher who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters.