The summer holidays being here, consider Zeno taking his family on a trip. One of his kids asks ‘Are we nearly there?’ Suppose the answer is ‘No’, as it will be for most of their journey. Typically, the question is repeated a short time later. Since they will not have moved very far in that short time, how could they be nearly there? A bit further on from any place that was not nearly there would still not be nearly there. The Sorites paradox is that it follows logically that they will never be nearly there. But as Zeno knows, children are impossible.
Glassy plumes fly up, collapsing
back to a flatness that mirrors
nothing. A ponderous pause
and up springs a duckling,
but with butt bedraggled,
and snatching flies
from the bottom of the sky;
with his siblings: like golden spiderlings,
as busy as bees in the water-lilies. They emerge
from their submergings like broadsides
beside a lardy male evoking long-ships
with his draconian head
as he waddles by on lobstrous feet. Flustered,
he flaps his wings,
and peacock-blue rhombuses blink
and fling off oddly fluttering splodges
of soggy leaf-litter.
Weary of malarkey
he fans out his butt like a pack of cards
and onto a flagstone flops. Wary of malady
he gingerly stretches out his white-collared neck
for sumptuous croutons, a little presumptuously.
Unhinging winds fringe maroon-fingered moon,
like a waiter with a supernatural soup-spoon;
a crater of rubble like a burst bubble serving
as a seat of tranquillity for a duck quacking
a soporific melody of
"Talk about a duck
floating on a lake, looking
like a wooden decoy does;
talk about a drake ducking
the ducklings he can make."