Lake Temescal
The lake is black.
I’m unemployed,
yet I’m sitting in the sun.
Unemployed ducks, enjoying the sun,
are fishing for their meals.
If I were working, there would be no sun,
though there might be a finer lunch than bologna sandwiches.
I feed my bread crusts to the ducks,
who glide silently through the water.

I should go to college and learn a trade,
not have to hunt for jobs
for which everyone is qualified.
I’d like to be a chef
but haven’t the faintest idea how.
If I went to the Culinary Institute of America
or Oakland’s Laney Junior College, they’d teach me how.
Then, when I saw an ad,
“Restaurant chef. Experience pref,”
I’d walk in confidently and seize the day.

One duck floats by, complaining of too few crumbs.
“What did she say?” my daughter asks me.
My heart is heavy and small, worry follows on my trail.
“Did you see that?” A black duck
is beating the water with his wings, splashing seriously.
Mariah and I have a Coke,
grapes, and an orange, a healthy finish to our picnic.

If I were wealthy and employed,
skilled and satisfied,
I couldn’t do more with all my money
than lie here on the shore of Lake Temescal
with my daughter, watching the ducks.
But I wouldn’t feel this fear of the future,
this dissatisfaction with the present.
I’d be like a duck with one fish in his mouth
and another under him
in the black waters.