A couple of duck-bodied waterbirds have shadowed us
all the way around Green Lake.
Charcoal grey, heads black, eyes ripe like currants.
Bills, my brother offers.
We crouch on the low wall beside the water.
They paddle up as though we have bread.
What do we owe, and what are we owed?
Their wet-silk feet work open and shut.
Have their white legs underwater only now become
scaly and painted bright yellow
or are we only now starting to see?
Carolyn Williams-Noren was a 2014-2015 winner of a McKnight Artist Fellowship, selected by Nikky Finney. She’s the founder and caretaker of a free poetry library (littlepoetrylibrary.org) in the Minneapolis neighborhood where she lives with her family. New poems of hers will appear this fall in Water~Stone Review and Tar River Poetry, and her chapbook, Small Like a Tooth, is available from Dancing Girl Press.