On the Ducks Who Are People and the Ducks Who Are Ducks

In the animated movie that’s made for children
there is one particular duck who can talk and is
a person, while the rest of the ducks just quack and are
only ducks. If those ducks are shot they will die and you
can eat them, unlike Daffy Duck who is shot again
and again and his feathers are singed but he can’t die.

The duck who talks and is a person is the one duck
who matters. That duck is you. You identify with
that duck, not the others, because you are a person,
a person who talks and matters and survives, unlike
the others, who quack and die and will be eaten or
whatever might happen to them—it doesn’t matter.

But all the other people, it turns out, also feel
the same way about it: they also identify
with the only duck who can talk and is a person,
who gets things done in the world, whose life could be wasted,
but isn’t. Know this: everyone alive is that duck.
Every single person is that cartoon character.

The ducks themselves, though, the actual ducks in the world,
the ducks who live in the water between ice and ice,
those ducks don’t make distinctions between ducks who are ducks
and ducks who are people. None of them talk. None of them
want to. They all quack and they don’t know why that matters.
This isn’t to say they’re not missing something. They are.

But we must not miss what they’re not missing, in ourselves
or in them. They open onto the world like we do.
They are moved by the sun like we are, they feel it and
they awaken themselves. They are moved by hunger like
we are, feel their emptiness, seek to fill their bodies.
They are moved by the cold like we are, shiver, notice

their shivering and they fly until they’ve outflown it.
In the lengthening night, their world shrunken by darkness,
they push with their voices against its closing borders,
against the encroachment of known and unknown others.
Some are taken unseen in the dark and some are shot
after dawn, in the light of day, when the light goes out.