Struggle and splash
drag my eyes to the lakeshore.
Wing in water, log in lake
wrangle. I prepare to strip,
walk in, to untangle
feathers from fishline,
webbed feet and beak
from plastic six-pack rings.

A boy stands on the shore.
He’s left a fishing pole
on the dock, come down to watch.
When I’m beside him,
he says, “Something . . .
is killing that duck.”
I see the head flop,
a smaller head, teeth sunk
deep in feathery neck.

It’s a mink, now towing prey—
five times its bulk—to shore,
mooring it among branches.

The duck’s head hangs
underwater. The body
floats, still
a duck but not.

I tell the boy I’d never interfere
with a wild predator
vying for survival.
He shrugs in agreement,
says, “It’s just nature.”

Before returning to his line
he adds, with slightest shudder:
“There was so much blood.”

-Janna Knittel

Janna Knittel is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who now lives in Minneapolis. Her poems have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, NEAT Magazine, and Nice Cage, and on poets.org. She was a finalist for the 2016 Rita Dove Poetry Award from the Center for Women Writers.