Malvina Reynolds: Song Lyrics and Poems  

Mario's Duck

Notes: words and music by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1976 Schroder Music Company, renewed 2004. Malvina wrote this song after hearing the story it is based on from a Chilean friend.

Mario had a little pet duck,
They couldn't afford a dog or a cat,
But a duck needs only scraps to eat,
Though scraps were the family's principal meat.
Mario's father was God knows where.
After a drunk he would stagger in,
Out of work and in despair,
To brood and curse and be gone again.

Mother washed fine clothes every day
For the rich people, for little pay,
Seven kids she raised alone,
And Mario was the youngest one.
This was in Chile some years ago
When the people were poor as they are now.
Allende tried to change things around
But the CIA's Junta shot him down.

The story that I am telling you
Happened in Chile a while ago,
Mario walking a dusty road
Looking for rags or a scrap of food.
But there as he walked along his way
Somebody's duck that had gone astray
Followed him down around the bend
And took the boy for his brother and friend.

The farmer laughed and let him go,
But Mario's mother said, "Oh, no!
We can't afford pets in the barrio."
"I'll find him his food," said Mario.
Everyone smiled at the funny two,
The little duck went where the boy would go,
They played all day by the cabin door
And slept on the pallet on the floor.

As if there weren't troubles to spare,
Alicia gets pregnant, Alicia the Fair,
And how can they marry with no place to go?
There are no more rooms in the barrio.
But mama manages everything,
A wedding dress and a wedding ring.
Two satin sheets that got lost somehow
In the washing, become the wedding gown.

The wedding ring is a silver band
That once graced Mamacita's hand,
And a room is made out of boards and tin
Built onto the hut that they all lived in.
The wedding bouquet was Mario's find,
Field flowers of every kind,
Pretty and bright and arranged with taste
To hide Alicia's swelling waist.

And what did they have for the wedding feast,
For the bride and the guests and the village priest?
It was Mario's duck, with the feathers gone,
Crowning the table, roasted brown!
What a strange wedding they had that day,
Eating and drinking and all so gay,
And Mario, crying, up in the tree
Throwing rocks at the company.

Malvina Reynolds songbook(s) in which the music to this song appears:
---- The Malvina Reynolds Songbook

Other place(s) where the music to this song appears:
---- Broadside No. 133 (October-December 1976)
---- Hilda E. Wenner and Elizabeth Freilicher, Here's To the Women: 100 Songs For and About American Women (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1987)

Malvina Reynolds recording(s) on which this song is performed:
---- Mama Lion
---- Ear to the Ground

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This page copyright 2006 by Charles H. Smith and Nancy Schimmel. All rights reserved.

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