Archive for the ‘Poem for a mute swan’ Category

The first time I heard the swans in our northern bay, I thought I was hearing Canada geese with COPD.  The swans frequently hang out in the midst of an entourage of Canadas—but swans bark in a louder register, with a rusty twinge that reduces me to a pile of goose bumps whenever I hear it.  Like the keening of coyotes in the night, swan music has its own mystique.

Joe took the above photo through his telescope; hence the darkness around the ring of light.  These are the whistling swans.  They pause in our bay every spring, en route to the far north—and sometimes again for a few days on their southward journey in fall.  

The swans never fail to touch me profoundly, with their wild beauty.  Thanks to Hans Christian Andersen’s UGLY DUCKLING, swans are forever imprinted in my soul.  Here is an ode to a mute swan, which I wrote a few years ago.  Different from the noisy swans in our bay, the mute swan carries unique metaphorical implications for me. 

Mute Swan

Voiceless, relegated to the torments

of a heartless wind, storms assail – – –

rain pelts and turns to ice while you,

you cannot speak or breathe a protest

as wind’s anger wreaks the pain

of cruel ice upon your neck, curved in grace,

or spews a deafening spate

of condemnation in your face.

Bend low.  The waters darken. 

Tomorrow your ravished image will be caught

in corrugations of a winter lake,

and wings renewed will take you skyward,

Sunward, ’til you seize your voice

and scream your triumph over wind

defeated, conquered, stripped forever

of its heartless power to break.

Margaret Longenecker Been—All Rights Reserved

(Mute Swan was published in A TIME UNDER HEAVEN . . . seasonal reflections and poems . . . by Margaret Longenecker Been, 2005)

Read Full Post »