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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 4, December 2017
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Donna Buck
Carlsbad, California, USA


Guess Again

Street names matter. I'm picky about them. They should be upbeat, optimistic, or somehow reflect favorably on the residents. My walking partner's cardiologist lives on Easy Street, near the beach.

After months I find my dream house on El Pato Court. This is fortuitous, as I love birds. El pato: the duck. When I move in, I quickly establish a duck theme throughout the house. The birds find the feeder, and my garden is filled with music.

When my friend from El Salvador visits, she smiles at my enthusiasm. She knows how much I love Spanish culture and language. But she cautiously reminds me that pato has multiple meanings. "You know, there are lots of Latin countries, and in many of them, a duck is not a duck."

For starters, she informs me, in Argentina el pato is a sport, a cross between polo and basketball.

"Oh, fine," I sigh.

"There’s more," she continues.

"Go ahead. Tell me."

I further learn that in other Latin American countries un pato can be a boring person; someone who's broke; a person without skill; a clumsy person. A laughingstock. A sucker. A slur.

My wooden mantle ducks, housewarming gifts from my sister, are leaning in, listening to all this. They've been around. They've heard worse.

A bedpan . . .

such technicolor
with my eye bandages off—
why then
this nostalgia
for a world in black and white

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