The Old Man Who Lived Along Swatara Creek

He lived in a tarpaper shack
and the ducks would come up
from the creek and quack around it.
Sometimes, the water would come up
and lie all around the tiny hovel.
He was not “desperately poor.”
He was well beyond that, into nature.
He was nature.
He had no visible means of support
but the air, but mercy
of a large vegetable garden.
Yet he did not take the ducks’ eggs.
He did not steal their children
as his distant siblings would advise him.
They would not visit
that horrible, sometimes-floating shack.
They would send him Christmas cards
urging him to steal duck eggs
to survive. They would sometimes
tape a quarter to the forehead
of the baby Jesus inside the card
for good luck.

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