The Duck by Peter Krumbach


It was the moment when all eight of us
suffered the same seizure, the one
that marks each dinner party,
the instant of sticky silence
when you pretend to eat the duck,
trawling your halted mind for a thing
to say. It was then that I startled myself
proposing that we all undress.
I suspected you would be the first to get
on board, maybe your sister Lydia, and Stan,
her husband, who had spent the evening
eyeing Yolanda, whose one reckless breath
could have burst her tube top into confetti.
Perhaps the blue-cheeked man brooding
to my left like an unfinished statue
of Richard Nixon.
But no - it was old Professor Lustig
who stood up at the head of the table,
and in the gleam of his wife’s cutlery
began to loosen his tie.


PETER KRUMBACH was born in what used to be Czechoslovakia. Shortly after graduating with a degree in visual arts, he left the country, and began a journey that eventually took him to New York. He worked in commercial art, and later as a translator and broadcaster. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in such places as Alaska Quarterly Review, Phoebe, Columbia Poetry Review, Fugue, Serving House Journal, and San Diego Poetry Annual. He currently lives in La Jolla, California.